The Snooker world has been rocked by the recent match-fixing controversy
surrounding Stephen Lee but has dealt with the matter strongly by imposing a 12 year ban on the former world number five, effectively ending his snooker career.
Many could argue that a lifetime ban should have been handed out to the player but in actual fact Lee will probably never return to the game of Snooker, particularly as his ban will end on his 50th birthday. The game is becoming more of a young mans game these days and Lee may never have the drive and ambition to return particularly against those players he has badly let down.
Sport in general must learn from these instances and ensure that punishments are severe enough to deter anybody from trying to repeat these acts of cheating. A zero tolerance across every sport is the only way to ensure this.
Is it possible for all sports to unite to form a strategy to counteract the cheats and develop common punishments?
Cheating in sport is not widespread and we must not believe that it is, otherwise our great sportsmen and women will see their huge achievements, through determination and commitment, being treated with scepticism by onlookers. The sport of cycling has been going through a huge challenge recently due to the Lance Armstrong affair as well as other instances. Supporters of the sport have felt a huge sense of disappointment and anger at the many revelations affecting their sport. Only now is the sport starting to recover, but make no mistake about it, they cannot afford another high profile cheating revelation.
Not many sports, if any, can say they are fully clean and rid of the cheats. It is impossible to say this. The next revelation is only around the corner. Cricket, football and horse racing have all hit the headlines in recent weeks which has undoubtedly damaged each sport to a certain extent.
One positive was the lack of drug cheats discovered in the London Olympics - a rare victory.
The main problem and the common denominator in all sports is money. Financial rewards are huge for these cheats and apparently out-way the punishments for some individuals. Even lifetime bans from a sport these people profess to love can appear to be worth the risk if the prize on offer is sufficiently tempting.
Not only have the sports been let down but what about the millions of supporters across the globe who feel betrayed from people they once believed were sporting icons. I for one read Lance Armstrong's brave fight against cancer and the battle he had to not only ride his bike again but also to be able to win the Tour De France. I truly believed this man was such a brave sportsman and became an admirer of him and his determination. This has been quickly erased.
The bookmakers cannot be blamed, they are trying to make a living. Whatever people's beliefs are on betting they cannot put the blame at their doorstep. The industry has tightened up its procedures and are working with sporting governing bodies to try and stamp out any suspicious betting patterns. Is there anymore they can do? There are millions of people every day who like to place bets all in good faith. Their enjoyment must not be curtailed because of the behaviour of a minority.
Cheating has probably existed for as long as sport has but the modern world has many
more temptations to offer. Perhaps we only hear about these cases more often because investigations are better and more thorough but that doesn’t make every discovery seem like a dagger through every clean sportsman and woman's heart.
How many instances of cheating have gone unpunished before?
We may never know. We seem to be waiting for the next individual and sport to become embroiled in the next saga. Unfortunately that is inevitable but let's hope the occurrences
become less and less frequent as all sports unite to clamp out the scurge of our cherished games.
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