China table tennis coach suspended, sent home from worlds

BEIJING -- A legendary Chinese pingpong player has been suspended as coach of the national women's table tennis team in the wake of a lawsuit over alleged casino debts.

The Chinese Table Tennis Association on Tuesday said it was suspending Kong Linghui and ordered him to return from the sport's world championships in Germany as it investigates the allegations.

Table tennis is a national obsession in China, where Kong is counted among the sport's all-time greats. Chinese media reports say he borrowed $721,000 from a Singapore hotel and casino in 2015 and is being sued in Hong Kong for failing to repay the debt.

Kong, a two-time Olympic gold medalist, posted a statement late Monday on the Weibo microblogging service acknowledging he had borrowed the money but didn't gamble himself.