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Friday 29 August 2014

Ronnie O'Sullivan: Match fixing is rife in snooker

Published 17/09/2013 | 10:39

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Ronnie O'Sullivan celebrates with the trophy after beating Barry Hawkins in the final of the Betfair World Championships at the Crucible earlier this year
Stephen Lee
Stephen Lee

World champion Ronnie O'Sullivan does not believe Stephen Lee is the only snooker player guilty of match-fixing.

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Lee, who had a career high ranking of fifth in the world, was found guilty of of match-fixing charges relating to seven matches in 2008 and 2009 on Monday.

The case is the latest to rock the world of snooker and Lee is facing up to the possibility of a lifetime ban next Tuesday.

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," said the former world number one on Twitter.

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

"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."

O'Sullivan, no stranger to controversy, admitted his latest remarks are likely to land him in hot water with snooker chiefs.

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

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."

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

Lewis ruled: "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."

A WPBSA statement read: "Between February 2008 and April 2009, Stephen Lee was in contact with three different groups, all of whom placed bets on the outcomes of his matches or on the outcomes of frames within his matches or on the exact score of his matches.

"The matches were Lee v (Neil) Robertson, Lee v (Marco) Fu and Lee v (Ken) Doherty in the Malta Cup 2008 where there was betting on the exact score and the match outcomes. Lee v (Stephen) Hendry and Lee v (Mark) King in the UK Championship 2008 where the betting was on the outcome of the first frame. Lee v (Mark) Selby in the China Open where there was betting on the match outcome. Lee v (Ryan) Day in the World Championship where there were bets on match outcome and the exact score and 'in-match' betting on the outcome of the frames in progress.

"The first group were organised by his then sponsor who opened multiple betting accounts with various associates.

"The second group were co-ordinated by his then manager who placed almost identical bets. The third was an individual known to Lee who placed the same bets independently.

"Lee was in contact with the groups in the lead-up to the matches and afterwards. In one case the person collected the successful bet and placed the half of the winnings into Lee's wife's bank account."

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