UK & World News
Stephen Lee Banned From Snooker For 12 Years
Snooker star Stephen Lee has been handed a 12-year ban for match-fixing, it has been has confirmed.
The former world number five was found guilty of seven match-fixing charges by an independent tribunal last week.
The case related to seven matches in 2008 and 2009 - three in the Malta Cup in 2008, two at the UK Championship in the same year, one at the 2009 China Open and one at the 2009 World Championship.
Tribunal chairman Adam Lewis QC also ordered that 38-year-old Lee pay costs of £40,000.
A statement from the World Professional Billards and Snooker Association (WPBSA) said: "The suspension is to be calculated from 12 October 2012, when the interim suspension was imposed. Therefore Stephen Lee will not be able to participate in snooker before 12 October 2024."
WPBSA chairman Jason Ferguson said: "We take no pride in having to deal with such serious issues. However, this demonstrates our commitment to ensuring that snooker is free from corruption.
"It is an important part of our anti-corruption approach that players found to be involved in fixing matches or any aspect of a match are severely dealt with.
"We work closely with partners globally and the message we are sending is that if you get involved in match-fixing you will be found out and removed from the sport."
The WPBSA had been seeking a lifetime ban but the organisation's disciplinary head Nigel Mawer insisted a 12-year suspension was effectively the same thing.
Mawer said: "In effect it is a life ban because I think it is highly unlikely that Stephen Lee will be able to come back to the sport at this level.
"We don't take great pleasure out of that - this is a case of a fantastic snooker player who has thrown it all away through making the wrong decisions."
Mawer added that he believed snooker was overwhelmingly a clean sport.
He said: "I am independent and outside the organisation and have a law enforcement background, and all the intelligence on irregular betting comes to me.
"Hand on heart I believe it is a very, very clean sport - I have only had to investigate four incidents in 7,000 matches and two of those have led to suspensions, which puts it in context."
In his written findings, tribunal chairman Lewis pointed out that life-time bans were not part of the disciplinary rules at the time of the offences but that he had the discretion to impose one of that length.
The findings state: "These breaches occurred when Mr Lee was in a financially perilous state not entirely of his own making and was finding it difficult to obtain entry to enough tournaments.
"As a weak man in a vulnerable position he succumbed to temptation. I consider it unlikely that he was the prime mover or instigator of the activity. It seems to me likely that advantage was taken of him."
Lee's agent Adam Quigley has confirmed he will lodge an appeal.