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O'Sullivan: Match-fixing widespread in snooker

ESPN staff
September 17, 2013 « Live County Championship coverage | Chartbeat test »
Ronnie O'Sullivan believes Stephen Lee is not the only snooker player guilty of fixing matches © PA Photos
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World champion Ronnie O'Sullivan says match-fixing in snooker goes far beyond Stephen Lee, a claim that he has been challenged to substantiate in a growing row with the sport's governing body.

Lee is awaiting his punishment after being charged with fixing seven matches between 2008 and 2009, with a decision due on September 24 that may spell the end of his professional career.

Snooker's bad boys

  • Joe Jogia: Suspended for two years in 2012 after an investigation into suspicious betting patterns

    John Higgins: Found guilty of "giving the impression" he would breach betting rules and of failing to report the approach in 2010. Banned for six months but returned to win the World Championship

    Quinten Hann: Banned for eight years in 2004 after being found guilty of breaking rules by agreeing to lose a match in exchange for money in a newspaper sting operation

    Peter Francisco: Found guilty of bringing the game into disrepute in 1995 and given a five-year suspension, he subsequently returned to the game

But while Lee, who has been suspended since October 2012, stands accused of "the worst case of snooker corruption that we've seen" by WPBSA disciplinary chairman Nigel Mawer, O'Sullivan insists Lee is simply unlucky.

"I've heard there's many more players who throw snooker matches," he tweeted. "I suppose Steve Lee was just caught out. I just love putting it out there bring it all out in the open. Nothing like a bit of transparency is what I say.

"No need to worry if you got nothing to hide. But plenty of people have got loads to hide. That's why there is no free speech . [They're] hiding."

O'Sullivan signed off by hinting that snooker's powerbrokers were concealing the true extent of the problem to save face.

"They will [probably] fine me for talking about it," he added. "They don't like you doing that. Like to keep things under the carpet."

Barry Hearn, the chairman of World Snooker, has since issued a statement branding the comments "wholly unacceptable and extremely damaging".

"If he [O'Sullivan] has names and he knows of incidences, he has an obligation and a duty to report them and failure to do so will put him in breach of his player's contract," said Hearn.

"We take these type of allegations very seriously. We have written to Ronnie asking him to explain his comments and to provide details of any match fixing and the names of the players that he is referring to."

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