Monday 19 March 2018

Stephen Lee facing lifetime ban for match-fixing scandal

Stephen Lee
Stephen Lee

Stephen Lee faces a potential life ban from snooker after being found guilty of match-fixing.

And World Snooker chairman Barry Hearn has warned any players tempted to follow a similar path: "We know everything."

Lee, the 38-year-old former world number five was on Monday found guilty of fixing in seven matches in 2008 and 2009, in the biggest case to hit the sport since Australian Quinten Hann was suspended for eight years in 2006.

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."

Hearn told Press Association Sport: "Stephen Lee was a very good snooker player, earning a great deal of money, and in today's world of more and more snooker events, what he's lost far outweighs the short-term gain.

"The message is clear: we will watch every single game, we employ a great integrity unit, we have a great relationship with gambling commissions around the world - we know everything.

"We will find out, we will pursue and they will get found out, and the punishment will follow.

"Without integrity in sport, there is no sport."

Outspoken world number 10 Mark Allen has not always seen eye to eye with Hearn, but agreed with his calls for a strong deterrent.

Allen wrote on Twitter: "It's took (sic) a long time but glad the Stephen Lee case is drawing to a close. Absolutely no place for that in our sport!! Lifetime ban I hope!!"

Online Editors

Sport Newsletter

The best sport action straight to your inbox every morning.

Editor's Choice

Also in Sport