News 28 May 2015

Amateur snooker player suspended for six years by WPBSA

The World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association (WPBSA) has sentenced amateur player John Sutton to a suspension of six years from the sport of snooker. In a statement released today the WPBSA said that on 20th May 2015 there was a hearing to determine the sanction against Sutton. The suspension will run from 9th February 2015 when the original interim suspension was imposed by the WPBSA after they had launched an investigation into suspicious betting patterns found on a match between Sutton and Jamie Burnett at the International Championship in Barnsley on 24th September 2014. Sutton lost the match 6-0.

During the hearing to determine sanction and costs against Sutton, the WPBSA Disciplinary Committee stated that the WPBSA’s primary position on match-fixing was that a ‘matter of this seriousness should attract a lifetime ban’. However the committee said that it had taken into account evidence of possible coercion as a mitigating factor, and therefore considered a ban of between 5-10 years as not being an unreasonable alternative to a lifetime ban.

After the hearing Sutton’s 6 year ban was imposed. Sutton has been ordered to pay a contribution towards the WPBSA costs of £5,000, but has a right to appeal the finding and the sentence imposed. Sutton continues to maintain his innocence, telling the BBC that he had felt unwell during the match against Burnett and had been ‘made a scapegoat’. He told the BBC that the only thing he was guilty of was being an ill-prepared amateur.

The WPBSA launched an investigation in February this year which was supported by the International Centre for Sport Security (ICSS) and the Gambling Commission SBIU and decided that there was a case for Sutton to answer in relation to a breach of the WPBSA Members Rules, Betting Rules. Following a ‘thorough investigation’, at a 24 March 2015 hearing the WPBSA found Sutton to be guilty of breaching the following WPBSA Members Rules and Regulations: 2.1.2 (corruption); (to fix or contrive, or to be a party to any effort to fix or contrive, the result, score, progress, conduct or any other aspect of the Tour and/or any Tournament or Match) 2.1.3 (misuse of inside information); (to use for betting purposes, or to provide to any other person for such purposes, any information relating to the Tour and/or any Tournament or Match that the ember possesses by virtue of his position within the sport and that is not in the public domain or readily accessible by the public).

On 8th April 2015, Sutton told the BBC that he would be appealing the WPBSA’s finding that he had breached its rules. “I honestly feel that I am being made a scapegoat as I’m a nobody in the world game”, he said. Sutton told the BBC that he believes he came under suspicion due to two men placing big wagers on him to lose, both of which practice at his local snooker club. He said that the men are not friends of his, but claimed they had also lost £4,000 on another bet on the same day.



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