Sunday October 14,2012 : DID ONLINE BETTING PATTERNS TRIGGER SNOOKER SUSPENSION?
Stephen Lee the subject of another professional investigation
The announcement this week that the World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association has suspended Brit snooker champ Stephen Lee pending the outcome of an investigation has triggered speculation that the superior data-collection capabilities of online sportsbetting firms may have played a role.
Many such firms have integrity agreements with major sporting bodies as the industry cooperates in trying to stamp out corruption and dishonesty in international sport wagering.
In the Lee case, he has been suspended on grounds that ‘suspicious betting patterns' were reported to the UK Gambling Commission after his 4-2 defeat by John Higgins in a Premier League match on Thursday.
Lee's manager Adam Quigley says that the snooker ace is ‘devastated' by the WPBSA decision to continue an investigation into a 2010 match-fixing allegation as well as the current case, despite the Crown Prosecution Service declining to pursue the 2010 matter.
WPBSA chairman, Jason Ferguson, said the governing body had decided to suspend Lee pending the outcome of its inquiries into both the incident in 2010 and the events in Thursday night's match against Higgins.
The WPBSA's full statement read:
"On 2 October 2012 the Crown Prosecution Service announced that there will be no criminal proceedings in the match fixing allegations against Stephen Lee made in 2010. Following this decision by the CPS, the WPBSA started its own investigation into these allegations.
"On 5 October 2012 the WPBSA met with the Gambling Commission in order to review material collected by the Gambling Commission which may prove relevant to the WPBSA investigation.
"The WPBSA is now in the process of conducting a thorough inquiry into the circumstances and this will be led by Nigel Mawer, the chairman of the WPBSA Disciplinary Committee.
"On 12 October 2012 the WPBSA was informed of suspicious betting patterns relating to a game between Stephen Lee and John Higgins played on 11 October 2012. This suspicious activity has also been referred to Nigel Mawer, the chairman of the WPBSA Disciplinary Committee.
"The WPBSA has carefully considered both the initial information from the Gambling Commission, which was reviewed on 5 October 2012, and the new information regarding suspicious betting patterns in relation to the match between Stephen Lee and John Higgins from 11 October 2012.
"The WPBSA has 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 inquiry is ongoing.
"Subject to his right to appeal, this suspension will remain in place until either the conclusion of the investigation or any resultant hearings."