Lee Handed 12 Year Ban From Snooker

As you may well be aware by now, former ranking event winner Stephen Lee has today been suspended for a period of 12 years and ordered to make a contribution of £40,000 towards the costs of the WPBSA, following last weeks findings of Adam Lewis QC of the independent Sports Resolutions UK body…

  • Click here to read the full sanction at World Snooker

While not quite the life ban that many were anticipating, the verdict means taking into account the period of suspension that Lee has already served, he will not be able to resume his career until 12th October 2024, which coincidentally will mark his 50th birthday.

On Lee’s part, he has spoken in front of the cameras to the BBC for three minutes (UK viewers can watch here), during which he confirms that he has sought legal advice and intends to appeal the findings against him.

Lee adds that he is devastated at what has happened, that it is outrageous what he has been put through and that an official statement will follow, together with a newspaper exclusive giving his side of the story.

Subject to any such appeal however, today’s decision brings to a close an unfortunate chapter which rightly or wrongly has had people talking about snooker for all of the wrong reasons.

That said, it must be said that I have been impressed with the way that the case has been handled by the governing body, particularly in recent weeks, will full transcripts of the judgments being made available to the public.

Part of the problem in past cases has not so much been the decisions reached, but the lack of transparency and lack of clarity as to how they have been reached. In this case however, the publication of the judgments has demonstrated to everybody just how the decisions as to both guilt and sanction have been reached.

Today has also been notable for the comparisons that have been made by many of you on Twitter between this and the John Higgins case of 2010, however, I would urge caution in such comparisons, given the clear differences between the two cases.

While Lee has of course been found to have fixed several matches, it must be remembered that Higgins was found guilty only of failing to report an approach by the News of the World. There was at no stage any suggestion that Higgins had ever fixed a match.

Of course that case was one of those following which the judgment was not made public, so it is inevitable that there will be unanswered questions as a result, further vindicating the WPBSA’s decision to make those relating to Lee (and presumably any future cases), public.

Continue reading for the official statement, while I would also be keen to know your thoughts on the whole affair on Twitter @prosnookerblog

Official WPBSA statement:

After a hearing that took place between 9th – 11th September 2013, on 16th September 2013 Adam Lewis QC found Stephen Lee was in breach of the 2005 and 2006 WPBSA Members Rule 2.9;

“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.”

A hearing was held on 24th September 2013 where submissions on sanction were made by the WPBSA and Stephen Lee.

On 25th September 2013 Adam Lewis QC delivered his decision on sanction in writing.

He concluded that that the appropriate sanction is that Stephen Lee serve a Suspension of twelve years under Rule 12.1(a) of the Disciplinary Rules.

That 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 12th October 2024.

He has ordered that he should pay a contribution towards those costs of £40,000.

The WPBSA has a zero tolerance approach to match fixing and this is further evidence of our uncompromising approach to dealing with such issues.

Jason Ferguson the Chairman of the WPBSA 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.”

Under the WPBSA Disciplinary Rules Stephen Lee has a right to appeal the finding and the sentence imposed.

For the ruling on sanction see www.worldsnooker.com

The hearings to deal with this matter were conducted through Sport Resolutions UK who are wholly independent of the WPBSA.