Stephen Lee found guilty of snooker match-fixing

Stephen Lee has been found guilty of match-fixing charges in what officials have called "the worst case of snooker corruption we've seen".

His penalty will be announced on 24 September, with snooker's governing body expected to push for a life ban.

Lee, 38, denied the allegations, which concerned seven games in 2008 and 2009, including a World Championship match.

Stephen Lee's career

  • Turned professional: 1992
  • Ranking tournament wins: 5 (Grand Prix 1998; LG Cup 2001; Scottish Open 2002; Welsh Open 2006, PTC Grand Finals 2012)
  • Highest tournament break: 145
  • Highest world ranking: Five

The World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association said more than £40,000 was paid to his wife's account.

Lee, the winner of five ranking titles, has been suspended since October 2012, when he was ranked eighth in the world.

The verdict followed an independent tribunal held in Bristol last week.

World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association (WPBSA) chairman Jason Ferguson said in a statement:  "His future participation in the sport is now in real doubt as he will face a significant sanction."

The tribunal concluded that former world number five Lee deliberately lost matches against Ken Doherty and Marco Fu at the 2008 Malta Cup and agreed to lose the first frame against both Stephen Hendry and Mark King at the 2008 UK Championship.

In addition, Lee lost matches by a pre-determined score to Neil Robertson at the 2008 Malta Cup and to Mark Selby at the 2009 China Open.

The matches Lee fixed

2008 Malta Cup: Conspired to lose to Ken Doherty and Marco Fu, as well as losing to Neil Robertson by a pre-determined score, with the match ending 5-1 to Robertson.

2008 UK Championship: Agreed to lose the first frame in matches against Stephen Hendry and Mark King.

2009 China Open: To lose to Mark Selby by a set score, Selby winning 5-1.

2009 World Championship: That Ryan Day would win by a pre-arranged score, Day winning 10-4.

Lee similarly conspired to lose his 2009 World Championship first round match to Ryan Day, going on to be defeated 10-4.

There is no suggestion that any other player was aware of Lee's involvement.

"This is the worst case of snooker corruption that we've seen," WPBSA disciplinary chairman Nigel Mawer told BBC Radio 5 live.

"Stephen Lee was working with three different groups who were betting on multiple platforms and the exact score and frame outcomes for matches he played in those tournaments.

"The worst case is the World Championship because that is an iconic event. To think that someone could play in that and to arrange the outcome is more than shocking."

In a full ruling,  Sport Resolutions, an independent body specialising in sports arbitration, said the bets placed on the seven matches were "substantially successful".

One group associated to Lee earned towards £60,000 and another £35,000 on internet gambling alone, although these figures are likely to be higher as a result of bets placed with high-street bookmakers.

According to the WPBSA, payments of £40,000 were paid into Lee's wife's bank account between January 2008 and April 2009, while other deposits of £600, £1,000 and £2,000 are also known. Potential cash payments have not been identified.

Snooker bans

Joe Jogia: Suspended for two years in 2012 after a probe into suspicious betting patterns

John Higgins: Found guilty of 'giving the impression' he would breach betting rules, and of failing to report the approach in 2010. Banned for six months.

Quinten Hann: Banned for eight years in 2006 after being found guilty of breaking rules by agreeing to lose a match in exchange for money.

Peter Francisco: Found guilty of bringing the game into disrepute in 1995 and given a five-year suspension.

World number three Judd Trump, speaking before the Lee verdict was announced, said that any player found guilty of match-fixing should be banned for life.

"If anybody is found guilty, they should be chucked out of the game," he told BBC Points West. "There's no time for it in any sport. It is ruining the game.

"It's going to push away sponsors and money coming into the game. People are going to look at it differently so anybody found guilty should be punished with a lifetime ban."

Lee's fellow professional Joe Jogia was given a two-year ban in July 2012 for "lower-end" offences after an investigation into suspicious betting patterns on a match in which he played.

Australian Quinten Hann was banned for eight years in 2006 for match-fixing offences after a newspaper sting in which he accepted a proposal to lose a China Open match.

While Hann remains suspended, South African Peter Francisco has returned to the game at a low level after serving a five-year match-fixing ban handed down in 1995, following his 10-2 loss to Jimmy White at the World Championship.