Higgins right man to highlight dangers: Hearn

Higgins right man to highlight dangers: Hearn

World snooker chairman Barry Hearn claims John Higgins is the ideal person to lecture young players on the dangers of becoming embroiled in betting scandals.

Hearn yesterday launched a new integrity unit for the sport in the wake of a six-month ban for Higgins for breaching betting rules.

But it was announced at the launch that former world champion Higgins would play a key role in attempts to prevent players falling foul of the new rules.

Hearn promised life bans for any player breaching his “no betting on anything” rule and similar punishment for players who fail to report suspicious activity.

Higgins was suspended for giving undercover reporters the impression he would throw frames for money and failing to report his encounter with what he thought were “Russian mafia”.

The former world champion has admitted some players will doubt him when he returns to competition in November, but Hearn is convinced his history makes him suitable to educate younger players.

“John Higgins has been tried under the rules by an independent tribunal and been punished,” Hearn said.

“It’s very important in life that when someone’s punishment is gone we draw a line in the sand.

“John Higgins is the number one player in the rankings, former multi-world champion, a former great ambassador.

“I think John Higgins has a lot of problems when he comes back to the sport in terms of his reputation. He has to rebuild and it won’t be easy.

“I don’t think anyone can educate people better than someone who has fallen foul of a system. That’s a gamble, but I think John Higgins has the ability, the personality and the nerve and the will to learn from this and move on.

“I think John has the character to pull this off.”

Hearn has enlisted the help of the Quest organisation, led by Britain's former Metropolitan Police commissioner Lord Stevens, to monitor betting issues and investigate any alleged corruption.

Stevens will work with former force colleague David Douglas, who was brought in to lead World Snooker’s disciplinary committee after the Higgins allegations were published.

Douglas insisted he was fully content with the way the case was investigated after the initial headlines led to Higgins facing match-fixing allegations, which were subsequently dropped.

“It’s important the investigation is not just going to focus on what’s in the headlines or the television,” the former detective chief superintendent said.

“It has to be fully investigated. That’s what I like to think we did on the case of John Higgins. I went through all the unedited footage relating to the case.

“The evidence shows that John knew nothing about the corrupt throwing of frames until literally he was just going into the final meeting in Kiev on April 30.

“We go where the evidence takes us. When you look at the judgement on Mr (Ian) Mill, a very eminent QC, he was in no doubt that the WPBSA were right on the evidence to charge John with what we charged him with.”

Higgins later released a statement which read: “I welcome the opportunity to work with and promote the aims of the Integrity Unit overseen by Lord Stevens.

“Throughout my snooker career I have always found time to help and advise young players when they approached me for advice.

“In the months to come I will work with David Douglas and his team to ensure young players coming into the game are given all the assistance and guidance possible to progress in the world of snooker.”

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