Professional snooker player Stephen Lee has been given a 12-year ban after being found guilty of match fixing charges brought by the World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association (WPBSA).
The sentence was imposed after an earlier tribunal hearing found bettors, including one group based in the Isle of Man, had shown abnormal betting patterns on the outcomes of his matches.
Two of the bettors named in the tribunal hearing – Andrew Gibbs of Loch Promenade in Douglas and Mike Vipond – have both vehemently denied being involved in any irregular betting practices. Mr Lee’s then manager Neal Clague has also been on record to deny any wrong doing, but was not available when the Manx Independent tried to contact him.
Mr Lee’s ban on participating in any match organised by the WPBSA will last up to October 2024, as he has been temporarily suspended from play since last October pending completion of investigations.
The player, who was at one time ranked fifth in the world denied the allegations made against him which related to seven matches which took place in 2008 and 2009.
During the hearing the WPBSA gave evidence that the betting patterns which were shown by three distinct groups, including the Isle of Man one, were out of the ordinary.
The tribunal’s findings said: ‘The bets placed by each group of bettors risked considerably more than the usual bets on this sport by these bettors. These bettors bet higher amounts than they had bet before and their betting activity peaked at the times of the relevant matches.’
It was found that Mr Lee had identified matches he expected he might lose, then had gone on to lose them. He had also identified matches he expected he could win comfortably despite losing the first frame.
It was accepted that he did not deliberately ‘throw’ matches which he expected to win.
Mr Lee, from Wiltshire, who turned professional in 1992, has been told to pay £40,000 costs. He will be aged 50 when the ban ends.