Disgraced Lee banned for 12 years
Updated: Wednesday, 25 Sep 2013 13:01
Stephen Lee has been banned for 12 years after being found guilty of seven match-fixing charges, World Snooker has confirmed.
The 38-year-old was found guilty by an independent tribunal last week and appeared before a hearing on Tuesday.
Lee, the former world number five, was found guilty of match-fixing charges relating to seven matches in 2008 and 2009.
The matches in question were three matches in the Malta Cup in 2008, two matches at the UK Championship in the same year, one at the 2009 China Open and one at the 2009 World Championship.
Tribunal chaimran Adam Lewis QC also ordered that 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 head of disciplinary Nigel Mawer insisted the 12-year suspension was effectively the same thing.
Mawer told Press Association Sport: "We did say we were seeking a life ban because if it was seven matches that had been fixed including during the world championships.
"But 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.
"It is only human to have a degree of sympathy for him and it is going to be very difficult for him but we have to send a very strong message that match-fixing is not going to be tolerated.
"To my knowledge this is the longest ban ever handed down and there are £40,000 costs to pay too if he ever wants to come back."
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 come 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.