Features and Interviews

Ban Confusion

Six months? Two years? Six years? Eight years? Twelve years?

Sutton's six-year ban was announced on Wednesday.

Sutton’s six-year ban was announced on Wednesday.

Which is it?

Over the last decade there have been several match-fixing allegations which have resulted in players being handed suspensions.

But the length of terms above prove that there has been little consistency with the sentences given.

Of course each case has been unique by its own right.

Yet, shouldn’t there be a clear ruling as to what crime merits what length of ban?

For instance, what was the seismic difference between the John Sutton and Joe Jogia scandals that resulted in the former being dealt three times the length of expulsion from the sport?

In Sutton’s case, the 34 year-old was found to be in breach of WPBSA rules 2.1.2 and 2.1.3:

2.1.2 Corruption:

2.1.2.1 to fix or contrive, or to be a party to any effort to fix or contrive, the result, score, progress, conduct or any other aspect of the Tour and/or any Tournament or Match:

2.1.3 Misuse of inside information:

2.1.3.1 to use for betting purposes, or to provide to any other person for such purposes, any information relating to the Tour and/or any Tournament or Match that the Member possesses by virtue of his position within the sport and that is not in the public domain or readily accessible by the public;

For Jogia, the disciplinary committee decided in 2012 that the Englishman was in breach of rule 2.1.4:

2.1.4.1 to engage in any other conduct (ie beyond that specified in paragraph 2.1.1 to 2.1.3) that is corrupt or fraudulent, or creates an actual or apparent conflict of interest for the Member, or otherwise risks impairing public confidence in the integrity and/or the honest and orderly conduct of the Tour and/or any Tournament or Match.

Aren’t these essentially the same?

If not, what specifically is the reason for Sutton getting six years and Jogia, who is now eligible to return to the sport should he wish to, just two?

Nobody will question the WPBSA and World Snooker’s attempts to abolish players’ efforts to tamper with the outcome of matches for their own personal gain or that of their alleged accomplices.

But a bit of clarity with regard the verdicts would be nice, and somewhat fairer one would imagine.

At the moment it all seems a little bit random.

In athletics, if a competitor is found guilty of doping they receive a four-year ban, although there is an outline of what exactly constitutes a shorter or lengthier punishment.

There should be a similar guide in snooker; only then will everyone involved in the sport know where they stand.

The WPBSA has its Integrity Unit but integrity is surely a two-way street.

The players are obligated to abide by the rules but so too is the governing body compelled to enact them in a professional manner.

For the good of the sport, this confusion needs to change.

4 replies »

  1. David, maybe the difference between Jogia and Sutton is that Jogia “only” agreed to throw a match (which was never played as he pulled out over a “knee injury”…), while in Sutton’s case the match in question actually took place.
    Guess every judge would differ between preparing a crime or actually committing one.

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  2. http://www.snookerbacker.com/2012/01/24/apparently/

    Jogia didn’t go through with it, but that was at least in part because the WPBSA issued a statement 4 days before the match and before Jogia withdrew – as compared to the ‘ambush’ Sutton was apparently subject to after his match. Given this I’m not sure that the distinction merits 3x the sentence.

    Reading the judgment it seems that John didn’t put his story across very well – by comparison when he had a journalist to put his side of the story across (bbc.in/1a5BLcu) it seems a lot more convincing. This is where the absence of a proper representative body for players is most apparent – given the significance of the case it is absurd that Sutton had to represent himself.

    Given the number of barristers i) complaining about inadequate workloads and ii) with aspirations of doing sports law should something be done to identify barristers who might be prepared to do these sort of hearings on a pro-bono basis, as sadly it seems inevitable there will be a couple of cases like this a year for the foreseeable future.

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  3. Sutton was treated disgracefully, got to be honest if I was a member of his club I think I would have bet against him, that is nothing to do with him, old news but john Higgins got away with murder because of who he is and everytime he loses if I was a bookie I would ask questions

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