Lee has 'case to answer' over claims
Stephen Lee is facing a battle to save his career after the World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association said he has "a case to answer" following a match-fixing investigation.
The 38-year-old from Trowbridge, who has been ranked as high as fifth in the world and began this season at number eight, is alleged to have breached WPBSA rules in matches at four tournaments, including the 2009 World Championship.
The WPBSA said in a statement on Thursday it had considered a "large amount of material" before deciding to take action against a player who has been suspended from the sport since October 12.
"The case will be heard at a formal independent hearing arranged by Sport Resolutions UK at a date to be arranged," the WPBSA said.
In a statement, snooker's regulatory body said: "The WPBSA has gathered a large amount of material from the Gambling Commission, West Midlands Police and third parties in relation to these allegations. This has been a complex investigation where the material has had to be traced, recovered and re-evaluated with regard to the WPBSA rules.
"The available evidence has now been considered and in accordance with the disciplinary rules, the chairman of the disciplinary committee has decided that there is a case for Stephen Lee to answer in relation to a breach of the WPBSA members rules.
"These alleged breaches relate to four matches at the Malta Cup 2008, two matches at the UK Championship 2008, one match at the China Open 2009 and one match at the World Championship 2009."
Lee appealed against his initial suspension but that was rejected on October 24 and it remains in force.
The WPBSA statement added: "Stephen Lee is currently suspended from competition and Jason Ferguson, the chairman of the WPBSA, has decided that the suspension will remain in force until the conclusion of the hearing or hearings and the determination of this matter. The investigation into the suspicious betting in relation to Stephen Lee's Premier League match with John Higgins on 11th October 2012 is ongoing."
Lee responded through his lawyer, Tony Miles, and maintains his innocence. A statement said: "Mr Stephen Lee wishes it to be clearly known that he denies all allegations brought against him by the WPBSA. He does not accept that he has been involved in any breaches of the rules and regulations and is gravely disappointed that a decision has been taken to bring proceedings against him."