JOHN HIGGINS welcomed the outcome of a hearing that yesterday cleared him of match-fixing but imposed a six-month ban on the former world snooker champion.
Higgins, who was also fined £75,000, admitted breaching rules around betting at the two-day London hearing overseen by independent body Sport Resolutions.
The 35-year-old Scot was suspended in May pending an investigation into allegations of frame-throwing made by the News of the World.
He admitted “intentionally giving the impression to others that they were agreeing to act in breach of the betting rules” and failing to report the matter promptly to the governing body, World Snooker.
However, the charges of “agreeing or offering” to accept bribes and “agreeing to engage in corrupt or fraudulent conduct” were dropped.
Higgins’ then manager, Pat Mooney, has been permanently suspended from the World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association (WPBSA).
Speaking outside the hearing, Higgins said he was pleased he was found not guilty of any dishonesty and “had no intention to fix a match and no intention to do anything corrupt”.
Higgins continued: “The statement I made in May immediately after the newspaper accusations was 100% true then and they are 100% true today. I have never been involved in any form of snooker match-fixing.
“In my 18 years playing professional snooker, I’ve never deliberately missed a shot, never intentionally lost a frame or a match. I am glad the WPBSA’s view of the events in Kiev reflects that statement. If I am guilty of anything, it is naivety and trusting those who I believed were working in the best interests of snooker and myself.
“I accept I should have informed the WPBSA officials about the events in Kiev immediately on my return to the UK. I accept the decision to suspend me for six months and impose a fine of £75,000.
“This has been a traumatic time for me and those closest to me. It has been made all the more hurtful by the knowledge that I never have and never would fix a snooker match.”
Higgins and Mooney were filmed by the News of the World in Kiev allegedly agreeing to accept £261,000 in return for fixing the outcome of four frames.
Like Higgins, the two more serious charges against Mooney were withdrawn, while he admitted the other two. Higgins always denied any wrongdoing and insisted he would fight to clear his name, and the world governing body yesterday agreed the player “would never throw, and had no intention at that meeting of throwing any frame of snooker for reward”.
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