5/3/10 – A corruption “sting” operation instigated by the News of the World newspaper in the UK has left a three-time world snooker champ making excuses and embarrassed the controlling body for the sport.
Snooker champ John Higgins has been suspended pending the outcome of investigations on allegations that he accepted an offer of $400 000 in the Ukrainian city of Kiev from undercover reporters in return for losing certain frames in matches to be played later this year.
Barry Hearn, chairman of the World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association, confirmed the suspension and said that that Higgins his manager, Pat Mooney, who was also filmed accepting the deal, had resigned from snooker's governing body.
Hearn said that the interview had done major harm to his efforts to clean up snooker, which has been the subject of match-fixing and betting scams in recent years.
"I don't think I've ever felt so let down or kicked," Hearn said. "We're working so hard on revitalising the game and there are lots of people pulling in the right direction.
"We wanted the headlines to be about Steve Davis' revitalisation, Stephen Hendry's recovery," he said in reference to the return to form of two former world champions. "But all we're talking about is the News of the World expose on John Higgins and his manager, which has left me feeling devastated.
"I'm not prepared to see the sport die under this type of publicity."