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China Olympian's lover gets life term for fraud

BEIJING -- The former girlfriend of a Chinese Olympic gymnastics champion has been sentenced to life in jail for defrauding other star athletes and celebrities of nearly US$10 million, state-run media said on Wednesday.

Wang Ti — whose then-boyfriend Xiao Qin won pommel horse gold at the 2008 Beijing Games — cheated “more than two dozen well-known figures in the sports and entertainment industries,” the China Daily reported.

Among the victims were gymnasts Yang Wei, who won the 2008 men's individual all-round title, and his wife Yang Yun, who won a bronze at the 2000 Sydney Olympics.

“Many victims trusted Xiao, considering his social influence, so they gave money to his girlfriend,” a lawyer for several victims told the China Daily.

Wang pretended to be the daughter of various high-level officials, claiming that enabled her to buy properties and luxury cars at reduced prices, the paper said.

Altogether she obtained 58 million yuan (US$9.6 million) and HK$2 million (US$260,000), it added.

Wang ran her scam from 2008 to 2011, during which time she dated Xiao but was also still married to a player from the Chinese football team Dalian Shide, the China Daily reported previously.

At the time the club was owned by Xu Ming, a businessman once listed as a billionaire who was a key prosecution witness in the corruption case against fallen political high-flyer Bo Xilai earlier this year.

Wang's trial opened in June 2012 but the sentence was only handed down earlier this month and she plans to appeal, the China Daily said.

The report gave no explanation for the unusually long 18-month process.

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