SNOOKER: Lee applies for World Championships place
TROWBRIDGE snooker ace Stephen Lee has submitted an entry for next month's World Championship but must clear his name of match-fixing allegations by the end of March to stand any hope of playing at the Crucible.
The former world number five has been suspended from snooker since October, initially due to an ongoing investigation into suspicious betting on his Premier League match with John Higgins. Higgins is under no suspicion.
Lee was told by the World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association on February 14 he has "a case to answer" following a separate investigation into match-fixing, and he has remained off the tour as a result.
Lee, 38, is facing allegations that he breached WPBSA rules in eight matches spanning four tournaments, including the 2009 World Championship. As with the probe into his match against Higgins he protests his innocence.
Lee is determined to return to the tour, his manager Adam Quigley said today, but to be back in time for the World Championship he must have been cleared on all fronts by the end of March.
The draw for the World Championship qualifying stage is expected to occur on April 1, by which time the line-up of entrants for the entire event must be in place.
Lee's case into the match-fixing allegations is due to be heard by Sporting Resolutions UK, but a date has still to be set.
Quigley confirmed Lee had been sent an entry form for the World Championship, and returned it before the deadline at the end of last month.
"That's correct," he said. "We're still waiting for a hearing date. Depending on that, hopefully he'll be in it.
"They're trying to thrash it out and to have a QC available to hear the case.
"The whole saga has gone on for six or seven months so far, which isn't ideal.
"Stephen has been very positive considering everything that's gone on, and obviously he insists he's done nothing wrong.
"He's still practising and still doing the odd exhibition."
Quigley says that small print in player contracts has left him to expect Lee will receive no compensation for the events he has missed if he is cleared.
"If the hearing goes his way, I'm not sure he can get back any earnings," Quigley said.
"We still get entry forms sent to us for upcoming competitions. We didn't get anything for a while and then got asked to enter the PTC Finals, which Stephen won last year.
"The small print on the forms says that he is being invited providing his case has been sorted by then.
"For the PTC finals, we found out on Twitter that Stephen's name had been left off the draw. We seem to be the last in the loop."
In its investigation of matches involving Lee, the WPBSA, which is snooker's regulatory body, said last month it had "gathered a large amount of material from the Gambling Commission, West Midlands Police and third parties in relation to these allegations".
WPBSA chairman Jason Ferguson today told BBC Sport: "We are subject to the legal process. We hope things can move very quickly."
MORE SPORTS NEWS & PICTURES IN FRIDAY'S WILTSHIRE TIMES