London: British snooker player Stephen Lee was handed a 12-year ban for match-fixing on Wednesday that will effectively end his top level career in the game.
The World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association (WPBSA) said in a statement that the former world No. 5 was barred from playing until October 12, 2024, which will be his 50th birthday.
The ban has been timed from the start of his initial suspension last year. Lee, 38, was also ordered to pay £40,000 towards the ‘considerable’ costs of the investigation and hearing. “I’m absolutely devastated. I’ve done nothing wrong and I’m totally innocent,” Lee said.
He has always denied the allegations, which relate to seven matches played in 2008 and 2009 including the UK and world championships, and said he was confident of winning an appeal.
The WPBSA had described it as “the worst case of snooker corruption we’ve seen”.
Lee was found guilty at an independent tribunal hearing held from September 9-11 of “agreeing an arrangement... (and of)... accepting or receiving or offering to receive... payment” for influencing the outcome or conduct of matches.
WPBSA chairman Jason Ferguson said the ban “demonstrates our commitment to ensuring that snooker is free from corruption.