Following Stephen Lee's 12-year ban for match fixing earlier this month and the ‘News of the World’ sting on John Higgins in 2010, the Snooker world is on edge regarding claims of match fixing among the sport's elite players.
Thus, claims by Ronnie O’Sullivan in his new autobiography, ‘Running’, that he was approached to match fix for £20,000, ten years ago by fixers has raised alarm.
However, despite his claim that he could “pretend I was going nuts” and not raise suspicion by throwing a game, he went on to add “I couldn't live with myself; I'd feel that was robbing somebody." Illustrating that the integrity of himself and the sport were superior to the £20,000 he could earn, dissuading him from fixing.
Following these claims, he has been asked to clarify his behaviour by Nigel Mawer, the chairman of the World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association’s disciplinary committee. This comes as all players are contractually obliged to hand any information that they have regarding match fixing over to the WPBSA.
Perhaps a far more worrying claim to come out of the 37-year-old current World Champion’s autobiography was that he knows of seven or eight of the world’s elite have at some point thrown at the very least frames. At the worst though, it means that players have deliberately thrown matches, which casts shadows on the history books of world snooker.
It is also concerning, the ease of which the ‘fixers’ were able to meet up and deal with the players, as O’Sullivan recalls how he was contacted by phone, arranging a meeting in Epping Forest.
A suggestion therefore is that the relationships players away from the table should be scrutinised to ensure they aren't dealing with characters that could ruin their reputation and bring the game into disrepute. This method would also bring to light any illicit behaviour, meaning it could be caught before the game was affected by it.
The scandal has somewhat overshadowed his reign as world champion because debate has been centred in recent months around Lee and the fixing scandal. It should also not be forgotten that O’Sullivan’s plans for the current Snooker season are unclear, but there is a high chance ‘The Rocket’ will return to the Crucible on April 19th to attempt to add a 6th world crown to his collection.
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