World No 1 John Higgins has been banned for six months and fined £75,000 (Dh427,000) although the Briton was cleared of accepting a bribe to fix snooker matches. At an independent disciplinary hearing Higgins' claim that he felt intimidated during a meeting in Kiev with an undercover journalist from The News of the World newspaper offering him large sums of money to throw a match was accepted. The two most serious match-fixing charges levelled at Higgins were withdrawn although he admitted giving the impression that he would go along with the scam and of failing to report the meeting to governing body World Snooker. Three-times world champion Higgins, who strenuously denied match-fixing, was provisionally banned by World Snooker chairman Barry Hearn in May pending the hearing. The Scot's six-month suspension has been back-dated meaning he can continue his career in November.
"I was not guilty of any dishonesty and had no intention to fix a match and no intention to do anything corrupt," Higgins said, reading from a statement, after the hearing. "I have never been involved in any form of snooker match-fixing. In my 18 years playing professional snooker I have never deliberately missed a shot, never mind intentionally lost a frame or a match. "If I am guilty of anything it is of naivety and trusting those who, I believed, were working in the best interests of snooker and myself." Hearn, who has ambitious plans to revamp snooker, said he was satisfied with the outcome. "John made a mistake in failing to report the meeting in Kiev," Hearn said in a World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association (WPBSA) statement on Wednesday.
"He has admitted this mistake and expressed great regret at what happened. The evidence, which has been exhaustively studied by David Douglas and Sport Resolutions, suggests that he was led into this situation and did not instigate any discussions of corrupt activity. "It seems certain, in view of his previous record and the ambassadorial work he has done for snooker, that this was a mistake he will never repeat." * Reuters