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No way back for Lee after appeal over match-fixing ban is thrown out

Stephen Lee's career is all but over after after the Englishman's appeal to overturn a 10-year ban for match-fixing was rejected.

Lee, a five-time ranking tournament winner and the former world No.5, had challenged the findings of a tribunal in September 2013 which found him guilty of fixing seven games in 2008 and 2009. They included deliberate defeats to Ken Doherty and Marco Fu at the 2008 Malta Cup, and agreeing to lose the first frame against Stephen Hendry and Mark King at the 2008 UK Championship.

Lee's appeal was thrown out by Nicholas Stewart QC, who also increased Lee's original costs order from £40,000 to £75,000. The decision means Lee, 39, will not be eligible to return to competitive snooker before October 12, 2024.

The World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association had initially pushed for a life ban but said yesterday they were satisfied with the punishment.

The chairman of the WPBSA's disciplinary committee, Nigel Mawer, said: "There's a degree of sadness [at the outcome] because Stephen Lee was a fantastic player and he's thrown it all away through greed and getting involved in match-fixing. Basically, as a result of that, he's now finished with snooker. He's banned until he is 50 years of age; he's exhausted all avenues of appeal. It is harmful to any sport when there allegations of match-fixing are upheld.

"We do have a seniors tour and there are options for people who are older to play snooker if they are good enough but, if you've been away from the sport for that length of time, I think it would be very difficult for him to re-engage."

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