independent

Thursday 17 April 2014

Barry Hearn: Ronnie O'Sullivan should name and shame match-fixers

06 May: Ronnie O'Sullivan celebrates with the trophy after beating Barry Hawkins in the final of the Betfair World Championships at the Crucible.

Chairman Barry Hearn has confirmed that World Snooker will be asking Ronnie O'Sullivan to name names following his match-fixing outburst on Twitter.

In the aftermath of Stephen Lee being found guilty of fixing, O'Sullivan sent a series of tweets alleging that Lee was not the only player who had thrown matches.

Lee, the former world number five, was found guilty of charges relating to seven matches in 2008 and 2009 on Monday and could now face a life ban.

Yet O'Sullivan, who won his fifth world title earlier this year despite a significant break away from the sport, believes this may just be the tip of the iceberg.

"I've heard there's many more players who throw snooker matches .. I suppose Steve lee was just caught out," the former world number one said on Twitter.

And Hearn has confirmed that O'Sullivan will be compelled to back up his allegations and warned that he could be charged with bringing the game into disrepute if he does not do so.

"If he has names and he knows of incidences he has an obligation and a duty to report them and failure to do so will put him in breach of his player's contract," he told Press Association Sport.

"World Snooker will be writing to Ronnie to say that under his player's contract it is his responsibility to report any incidences he's aware of and failure to do so would lay him open to a charge of bringing the game into disrepute.

"There's no point in making vague announcements, if he knows something he has a responsibility to be specific and World Snooker will be writing to him on that basis.

"I don't know what's behind his tweets. Sometimes there's nothing behind them and sometimes there is.

"It's for him to tell us. He's either got to say, 'actually I don't know anything', or if he knows something then he has a responsibility to tell us and if he doesn't tell us then he could be brought into disrepute."

O'Sullivan is no stranger to controversy and has threatened retirement on several occasions but, after claiming consecutive world titles, it appears he is now happy to be back on the circuit.

He is no doubt, however, that his latest comments could land him on hot water.

"I just love putting it out there bring it all out in the open.. Nothing like a bit of transparency is what I say," he added.

"No need to worry if you got nothing to hide. But plenty of people have got loads to hide. That's why there is no free speech . There (sic) hiding.

"They will prob fine me for talking about it.. They don't like you doing that.. Like to keep things under the carpet."

Lee was suspended last October pending a hearing by Adam Lewis QC, which took place in Bristol last week.

Lewis' ruling stated: "Stephen Lee is found guilty of agreeing an arrangement...[and of] ...accepting or receiving or offering to receive... payment or...other...benefit...in connection with influencing the outcome or conduct of each of the seven matches in breach of Rule 2.9."

The World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association will not confirm Lee's punishment until next Tuesday but chairman Jason Ferguson warned: "His future participation in the sport is now in real doubt as he will face a significant sanction."

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