Snooker ace Lee bids to beat ban and clear name in new betting probe
12:00pm Saturday 20th October 2012 in News
TROWBRIDGE snooker star Stephen Lee has launched the first stage of the battle against his suspension from the sport, vowing to fight tooth and nail to clear his name.
Lee, ranked seventh in the world, was suspended by the sport’s world governing body, the World Professional Billiards & Snooker Association (WPBSA), pending the results of an investigation into suspicious betting patterns during his 4-2 defeat to John Higgins in a televised Sky Sports Premier League match last Thursday.
The news came just days after he had been informed he would not face criminal charges over match-fixing allegations dating back to 2010, although the WPBSA have also announced their intention to launch their own investigation into that matter.
The father-of-four, who was celebrating his 38th birthday when news of his suspension broke last Friday, would not comment publicly on the situation this week, confirming to the Wiltshire Times that he had engaged lawyers over his next move.
However, his manager Adam Quigley revealed they were filing an appeal over his initial suspension with the WPBSA which, if successful, would allow Lee to return to the circuit while the investigation is ongoing.
“Stephen just wants to clear his name and get out there playing again,’’ Quigley told the Wiltshire Times.
“We have seen what has been said in public about the investigation and that it is to do with suspicious betting patterns.
“Rightly, if they feel they have seen something untoward, they are investigating that, but other players have been investigated in the past and have played on during that timeframe so we feel that different yardsticks are being used.
“He (Lee) has worked incredibly hard this year to get back up to number seven in the world. He is sick of all this stuff getting thrown at him and feels there are doubts about him every time he misses a ball.
“When I signed him he was 24th or 25th, but he’s worked so hard to get back into the top eight Lee is due to play in an event in Belgium this weekend, the Acuerate Antwerp Open, and the International Championship in China at the end of the month, but Quigley conceded his chances of being involved in the former were receding.
“Stephen hasn’t withdrawn from Antwerp, but after the appeal is lodged, it’s usually three to five days for them (WPBSA) to look at the appeal,’’ he added.
Quigley also revealed they were pursuing action after complaining to the governing body over messages posted on Twitter by World No 2 Judd Trump, who has around 90,000 followers on the social networking site, which questioned Lee’s honesty in the wake of the Higgins defeat. The messages were subsequently deleted.
He added: “We’re taking advice on what was posted. It was deleted, but it’s a shame that a fellow professional says something like that when he has 90,000 followers.’’
WPBSA chairman Jason Ferguson said the governing body had decided to suspend Lee pending the outcome of their inquiries into both the incident in 2010 and the match against Higgins.
A statement read: “The WPBSA is now in the process of conducting a thorough enquiry into the circumstances, led by Nigel Mawer, the chairman of the WPBSA Disciplinary Committee.
“The WPBSA have concluded that it would not be appropriate for Stephen Lee to continue to compete on the World Snooker Tour whilst these investigations are undertaken and therefore WPBSA chairman Jason Ferguson has taken the decision to suspend Stephen from competition whilst this enquiry is ongoing. This will remain until either the conclusion of the investigation or any resultant hearings.”