STEPHEN Lee has been found guilty of match-fixing charges by the World Professional Snooker and Billiards Association.
The verdict comes after Lee, a five times ranking event winner, faced a disciplinary tribunal hearing in Bristol last week following charges over seven matches played in four tournaments between 2008 and 2009 – charges the 38-year-old denied.
His punishment, which is expected to be significant, will be announced on Tuesday, September 24.
A statement published today by World Snooker reveals Lee was in contact with three different groups of people, all of whom had placed bets on the outcome of the matches or frames or on the exact score of his matches. Contact was made between Lee and these groups before and after matches with a view towards financial gain.
One of the matches involved was in the sport’s biggest event – the World Championship in 2009. Other tournaments affected included the 2008 Malta Cup, the UK Championship (of the same year) and the 2009 China Open.
The amount of money betted on these matches exceeded £111,000 which led to winnings of £97,000 for those who had placed the bets.
In one case half the winnings of a successful bet were later paid into Stephen Lee’s wife bank account.
The statement reads:
The matches involved include Lee v Neil Robertson, Lee v Marco Fu and Lee v Ken Doherty in the Malta Cup 2008 where there was betting on the exact score and the match outcomes, Lee v Stephen Hendry and Lee v Mark King in the UK Championship 2008 where the betting was on the outcome of the first frame in each match, Lee v Mark Selby in the China Open where there was betting on the match outcome. Lee v Ryan Day in the World Championship where there were bets on match outcome and the exact score. In this match there was ‘in match’ betting on the outcome of the frames in progress.
The bets were placed by three groups of people. The first were organised by his then sponsor who opened multiple betting accounts with various associates which were used to place the bets. The second group were co-ordinated by his then manager who placed almost identical bets. The third was an individual known to Lee who placed the same bets independently of the other two groups. Lee was in contact with the groups in the lead up to the matches in question and afterwards. In one case the person collected the successful bet and placed the half of the winnings into Lee’s wife’s bank account.
The amount of money betted on these matches exceeded £111,000 which led to winning of £97,000 for the persons placing the bets.
WPBSA Chairman Jason Ferguson said the association have a zero tolerance policy for match fixing and Lee’s future in the game was in jeopardy.
“Today’s ruling is a stark warning to competitors in any sport who could become vulnerable in the future,” he said.
“Stephen Lee was the number 5 player in the world and had the opportunity to be part of snooker’s great success story. His future participation in the sport is now in real doubt as he will face a significant sanction.”