How long was Stephen Lee banned from snooker?

On October 12, 2012, Stephen Lee was suspended by the World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association (WPBSA), following reports of suspicious betting activity during a Premier League match against John Higgins, which Lee lost 4-2, the previous day. Of that stage, Lee was already under investigation by the WPBSA as the result of match-fixing allegations made against him in February, 2010, and the governing body said in a statement, ‘…that it would not be appropriate for Stephen Lee to continue to compete on the World Snooker Tour whilst these investigations are undertaken…’.

Lee appealed, unsuccessfully, against the decision and, on February 14, 2013, was charged with seven counts of match-fixing, in four different tournaments, including the 2009 World Snooker Championship. The WPBSA alleged that Lee was in cahoots with several groups who, collectively, placed bets of over £111,000 on the outcome of the suspect matches, or frames within those matches, and made a profit of over £97,000.

His case was heard by an independent disciplinary hearing board appointed by the WPBSA, through Sport Resolutions, over a three-day period between September 9 and September 11, 2013. Lee was found guilty on all seven counts, banned for 12 years, backdated to the start of his original suspension, and ordered to pay £40,000 in costs. Befitting what the WPBSA called ‘the worst case of snooker corruption we have seen’, Lee was handed the longest ban ever imposed on a professional snooker player.

Lee appealed, again unsuccessfully, thereby increasing the costs against him to £125,000, which, at the time of writing, he has yet to repay. His ban is due to end on October 12, 2024, the day on which he turns 50 and, despite John Higgins saying recently, ‘If he serves his ban and decides to come back we will welcome him back with open arms’, the WPBSA may not be quite so accommodating, particularly in light of his unpaid debt.

Post Navigation