Former World No.5 Stephen Lee has been found guilty of fixing seven snooker matches, the World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association (WPBSA) has announced.
The sanction will be announced at a separate hearing on Sep 24, the WPBSA said on Monday. Lee, 38, has been suspended since last October and faces a possible lifetime ban, reports said.
The Englishman was charged following an investigation into seven matches over four tournaments — three in the Malta Cup in 2008, two at the UK Championship 2008, and one each at the China Open 2009 and the World Championship 2009. The total amount bet on these matches was in excess of 111,000 pounds leading to winnings of over 97,000 pounds for people placing the bets.
“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,” according to a WPBSA statement.
WPBSA Chairman Jason Ferguson said, “The WPBSA have a zero tolerance approach to match fixing. We have an extensive network of contacts across the world with the gambling industry and with bodies such as the International Centre for Sport Security and the Gambling Commission.”
“Stephen Lee was the number five player in the world and had the opportunity to be part of snooker’s great success story. His future participation in the sport is now in real doubt as he will face a significant sanction,” he said.
It is the biggest match-fixing scandal to hit snooker since Australian Quinten Hann was suspended for eight years in 2006.
‘Many more players’
Reigning world champion Ronnie O’Sullivan on Tuesday alleged that Lee’s case may only be the tip of the iceberg, and accused snooker authorities of not doing everything in their power to bring corruption in the sport to light.
“I’ve heard there’s many more players who throw snooker matches .. I suppose Steve lee was just caught out,” he wrote 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.”
He added: “They will prob fine me for talking about it.. They don’t like you doing that.. Like to keep things under the carpet..”
World Snooker chairman Barry Hearn said his organisation would ask O’Sullivan to expand on his allegations.
“If he has names and he knows of incidents, 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 said.