Higgins to have role on snooker 'integrity unit'

Higgins to have role on snooker 'integrity unit'

Suspended former world champion John Higgins will play a role in World Snooker's new measures to ensure the integrity of the sport.

Higgins, who is serving a six-month ban for breaching betting rules, will be asked to help educate other players on the pitfalls that led to his punishment.

The plan was announced today as World Snooker chairman Barry Hearn launched the sport's new integrity unit.

Hearn promised lifetime bans against any players found to have breached a blanket ban on betting on snooker.

Hearn has enrolled the help of former Metropolitan Police Commissioner John Stevens, now chairman of Quest, who have led inquiries into alleged corruption in football and Formula One.

Quest will work alongside snooker's internal disciplinary committee, led by David Douglas, a former detective chief superintendent.

Hearn, also chairman of the Professional Darts Corporation, promised zero tolerance against players breaking the rules in both of his sports.

Hearn, speaking at the SECC in Glasgow where the 12bet.com World Open is taking place, said that fans and viewers "have got to enjoy their sport in the knowledge that their sport is cleaner than clean".

Hearn promised a "complete blanket ban" on betting and added: "Anyone who breaks these rules is at an instant lifetime ban from the sport.

"Anyone who has anything to report of a suspicious nature has the obligation to report it. Failure to report it comes back to a lifetime ban."

Stevens and Quest will help the governing body improve their intelligence on and investigation of suspicious activity while Douglas will oversee attempts to prevent players falling foul of the rules.

Douglas said: "I suspect a lot of players in all sports who err on the wrong side haven't fully understood the rules and regulations.

"They get led by other people to paths they shouldn't be following.

"I know John Higgins himself has said that, in terms of our education programme, when he comes back he is going to explain particularly to the younger players what happened to him and what the younger players need to be looking for to make sure they don't make the same mistakes. And it was a mistake that John made."

Higgins was cleared of match-fixing allegations at a two-day tribunal earlier this month but admitted intentionally giving the impression to undercover reporters that he would throw frames for financial gain.

However, he insisted throughout his case that he had done so only under intimidation and had no intention of carrying out the proposed plan.

His version of events was accepted at the independent tribunal but he was also punished for failing to report the matter.

The World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association board will vote on the proposals at their next meeting on October 7.

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