Stephen Lee: Banned snooker player says 'I'm innocent'

Snooker player Stephen Lee says he is innocent of match-fixing charges and will appeal against his 12-year ban.

The 38-year-old was given the longest suspension in the sport's history on Wednesday after being found guilty of fixing the outcome in seven games.

The snooker match Lee fixed

"I'm absolutely devastated. I've done nothing wrong," the former world number five told BBC Points West.

"I'm totally innocent of this and I will be making a public statement later on. I've just seen my lawyer."

Lee, of Trowbridge, Wiltshire, was banned and ordered to pay £40,000 costs on Wednesday following an independent tribunal hearing earlier in September.

He added: "It's just absolutely outrageous. I am absolutely devastated at what's happened here.

"I'm going to be with a QC on Friday morning and we are going to look at the whole picture and start making some big holes. They've got no facts."

And Lee says his snooker career will effectively be finished forever if the full term of his ban is upheld.

The ban will run from 12 October 2012, when an interim suspension was imposed, and means Lee will not be able to compete as a professional snooker player before 12 October 2024, the date of his 50th birthday.

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
  • Ranking at time of suspension: Eight

"It's just unbelievable," he said. "I've been a very angry man for 11 months. We'll just wait and see what happens. I'll be making an official statement on Friday morning. Snooker is all I know, it's a game that I love.

"I had no lawyer to represent me. I believe if I had a lawyer in there, there would have been a different outcome completely. A dirty picture has been painted.

"My career's over. My dad could beat me if I'm 50."

Tribunal chairman Adam Lewis QC could have imposed a lifetime ban, but said the player had been "weak" and others had taken advantage of him.

He found that three groups of gamblers had made a total profit of nearly £100,000 from bets placed on Lee, although the player has denied any wrongdoing.

Mark King 'hasn't got any sympathy' for match-fixer Stephen Lee

He also said it had not been established that Lee deliberately lost a match he could have won - rather that he "acted improperly in relation to matches that he either believed he would lose, or that he believed he would win sufficiently comfortably that he could drop the first frame".

The player was ordered to pay costs to help cover legal and other expenses of the WPBSA in bringing the case.

Lee, who has been a professional for more than 20 years and the winner of five ranking titles, was found to have manipulated the outcome of seven matches in 2008 and 2009.

The tribunal ruled he 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 predetermined score to Neil Robertson at the 2008 Malta Cup and to Mark Selby at the 2009 China Open.

Lee similarly conspired to lose his 2009 World Championship first-round match to Ryan Day, where he was defeated 10-4.