Record ban for snooker match-fixing scandal
Updated: 2013-09-27 09:26
Stephen Lee in action against Mark Selby during The Masters 2012 at Alexandra Palace, London, Jan 18, 2012 file photo. [Photo/CFP]
BEIJING - A 12-year ban for Stephen Lee seems a life long one when he was found guilty for manipulating seven matches in 2008 and 2009.
The former world number five was found guilty of fixing matches at the 2008 Malta Cup, the 2008 UK Championship, the 2009 China Open and the 2009 world championship.
It is the biggest match-fixing scandal to hit snooker since Australia's Quinten Hann was suspended for eight years in 2006.
With his professional career virtually coming to an end, Lee insists he is innocent and will appeal the ban.
"I'm absolutely devastated. I've done nothing wrong," the 38-year-old Englishman said. "I'm totally innocent from this."
In the insiders' opinions, Lee has no way back in snooker.
"It's going to be a mountain to come back from that, I don't see any way back," said world snooker chairman Barry Hearn. "I think 12 years effectively is a lifetime ban, to be perfectly frank."
Judd Trump and Willie Thorne agreed.
"I think it should have been a life ban but 12 years pretty much puts him out of his career..." said world No 3 ranked Trump.
"He (Lee) will be 50 when he gets his license back, as it were, and at that age you've got no chance of earning a living from snooker at that age." said Thorne, a snooker-player-turned BBC commentator.
According to the World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association (WPBSA), Lee was in contact with three different groups of people, 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 total amount bet on these matches was in excess of 111,000 pounds ($176,500) leading to winnings of over 97,000 pounds ($154,240) for people placing the bets.
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