LONDON (AP) — Snooker was hit by fresh allegations of corruption after former top-five player Stephen Lee was told he had a case to answer on Thursday following a match-fixing investigation.
World Snooker said Lee was alleged to have breached rules in eight matches across four tournaments — the 2008 Malta Cup, the 2008 UK Championship, the 2009 China Open and the 2009 world championship. "This has been a complex investigation where the material has had to be traced, recovered and re-evaluated," the world governing body said in a statement.
The 38-year-old Lee has been suspended from competition since Oct. 12 and the Englishman's ban will be in force until a formal independent hearing by Sport Resolutions UK at a date yet to be arranged. He denies fixing matches.
"He does not accept that he has been involved in any breaches of the rules and regulations and is gravely disappointed that a decision has been taken to bring proceedings against him," said a statement released by his lawyer, Tony Miles.
World Snooker said a separate investigation into suspicious betting in relation to Lee's Premier League match against John Higgins in October last year was ongoing. Lee started this season ranked No. 8 after returning to form after a lean spell.
Widely regarded as having the best cue action in the game, he has won five ranking events in his 21-year professional career, the most recent at last year's PTC Grand Finals in Galway, Ireland — his first title in six years.
Higgins, a four-time world champion and one of snooker's greatest ever players, was cleared of match-fixing allegations in 2010 but banned for six months for bringing the game into disrepute after being filmed in a newspaper sting allegedly accepting money to fix matches.
Quinten Hann and Joe Jogia are former players who have been found guilty of breaching rules after investigations into match-fixing.