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SNOOKER: Twelve-year ban leaves Lee in a fix
6:00am Thursday 26th September 2013 in Sport
SNOOKER’S leaders insist that Wiltshire’s Stephen Lee has been handed an effective lifetime ban after he was given a record 12-year suspension for seven charges of match-fixing.
The 38-year-old from Trowbridge, a regular at the 147 Club on Station Road in Swindon, angrily protested his innocence after the announcement of the sanction and is expected to lodge an appeal later this week.
The former world number five was found guilty of match-fixing charges relating to seven matches in 2008 and 2009, and the World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association had been seeking a lifetime ban.
But the organisation’s head of disciplinary, former Metropolitan Police detective superintendent Nigel Mawer, insisted the 12-year suspension and an order to pay £40,000 costs was effectively the same.
Mawer said: “We did say we were seeking a life ban because 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.”
Lee, who was in financial difficulties at the time of the offences and still now, claimed he had done nothing wrong and is expected to make a statement on Friday.
He said on Sky Sports News: “I’m absolutely devastated. I’ll be meeting with my QC tomorrow and we’re going to look at the whole picture and start making some big holes - they’ve got no facts. I’ve done nothing wrong. I’m totally innocent.
“My kids are getting picked on at school and it’s totally outrageous, what I’ve been put through.
“I didn’t have a lawyer to represent me; I believe if I’d had a lawyer in there it’d have been a different outcome completely.”
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