Stephen Lee claims innocence, to appeal against ban

London: British snooker player Stephen Lee, who has been banned for 12 years after being found guilty of fixing the outcome in seven games, has said that he is innocent of the charges against him and will appeal against his ban.

The former world number five was given the longest suspension in the sport`s history on Wednesday after he was found guilty of fixing seven matches in 2008 and 2009, including three in the Malta Cup in 2008, two at the UK Championship in the same year, one at the 2009 China Open and one at the 2009 World Championship.

According to the BBC, however, Lee reiterated his innocence, saying that he is `absolutely devastated` at the `outrageous` charges as he has done nothing wrong, adding that he will be consulting a lawyer to refute the ban.

The report mentioned that Lee was also ordered to pay 40,000 pounds to help cover legal and other expenses of the World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association (WPBSA) in bringing the case following an independent tribunal hearing earlier in September.

Stating that his career will effectively be finished forever if the full term of his ban, till 12 October 2024, is upheld, Lee also said that he loves the game, adding that a dirty picture has been painted of him over the last 11 months, which would not have happened if he had a lawyer to represent him at that time.

Although the tribunal chairman Adam Lewis QC could have imposed a lifetime ban, he said that he did not do so as he believed that Lee had been `weak` for which he was taken advantage OF by others.

According to Lewis, three groups of gamblers had made a total profit of nearly 100,000 pounds from bets placed on Lee, adding that Lee `acted improperly in relation to matches that he either believed he would lose, or that he believed he would win sufficiently comfortably that he could drop the first frame`.