China senior sports official ousted from Communist Party

Xiao Tian speaks at an Asian Games press conference in Guangzhou, China, on November 10, 2010 (AFP Photo/Peter Parks)

Beijing (AFP) - The former public face of China's national Olympic committee has been expelled from the ruling Communist Party after a corruption probe, the organisation's anti-graft body said Thursday, weeks after the country won the right to host the 2022 Winter Olympics.

Xiao Tian was put under investigation in June and sacked from his government post as deputy director of the General Administration of Sport in mid-July, shortly before the Olympic decision was taken.

He was also a vice chairman of China's national Olympic committee, and was regularly its main speaker at press conferences.

Formerly a successful fencer, Xiao is the highest-ranking sports official to fall in a widely publicised anti-corruption drive under President Xi Jinping, although he was not directly connected to the 2022 bid.

The investigation found Xiao's wrongdoings ranged from taking bribes and unlawfully offering jobs to his wife to intervening in official promotions, events approvals and sports business management, the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI) said in a statement.

He was also accused of hiding his illegal gains in an attempt to escape punishment, it added.

"Xiao Tian had lost all his ideals and faith as a high-ranking leader and cadre of the party," it said.

His actions were "vicious in nature and the circumstances were severe", it added.

The party had decided to expel him and his case has been transferred to judicial authorities -- normally a precursor to prosecution and trial, with conviction virtually guaranteed in the country's party-supervised courts.