Stephen Lee has appeared to rule out any hopes of a return to professional snooker despite his long-term ban ending later this year.
The former world number five’s 12-year ban concludes on October 12th, 2024 – which is also Lee’s 50th birthday.
After initially getting suspended in 2012 amid a cloud of suspicion, Lee was eventually found guilty of match fixing in 2014 following an extensive investigation.
At the time, the Englishman was regarded as one of the best players in the world and had recently secured his fifth career ranking title.
Lee graduated to the pro tour in the same year as Ronnie O’Sullivan, John Higgins, and Mark Williams – the fabled Class of 1992.
He didn’t quite enjoy the same level of success as his contemporaries from that era, but his silky cue action was widely regarded as among the smoothest in history.
In addition to reaching the 2008 Masters final where he was denied Triple Crown glory by Mark Selby, Lee’s best finish at the World Championship was a semi-final appearance in 2003.
Fans have long wondered whether or not he would return to the green baize when his suspension, which was a record at the time, ends.
Lee, who reportedly still owes the WPBSA huge sums in legal fees, seemed to leave the door open for a possible return when posed the question a couple of years ago.
“I must get asked this weekly, daily, minutely,” Stephen Lee said in 2022, as reported in The Mirror.
“I would like to say no, but I am still capable of playing. Let’s see what happens in two years. It’s not a no, and not a yes.”
“We can only just see what happens in a couple of years’ time. I have some exciting things coming up, and I’m also getting older.
“My eyes are getting worse, and I never had good eyes to start with. As you get older the determination and the goes.”
Yet it appears any of those small aspirations have since disappeared, with Lee confirming as much in a recent post on Facebook.
“Not a chance of it my friend,” was Lee’s reply last week to a comment on the social media platform which encouraged him to complete the comeback.
“I struggle to break off nowadays. It’s down to my son now…”
Lee’s son Alfie is an aspiring amateur player who competed in Q School and at the WSF Championship in 2023.
Why was Stephen Lee banned?
Lee had survived several investigations into suspicious betting patterns prior to the one that eventually banished him from the sport in 2014.
A tribunal ruled he deliberately lost matches against Ken Doherty and Marco Fu at the 2008 Malta Cup.
He was also deemed to have agreed to lose the first frame against both Stephen Hendry and Mark King during matches played at the 2008 UK Championship.
Lee additionally lost matches by a predetermined score to Neil Robertson at the 2008 Malta Cup and to Mark Selby at the 2009 China Open.
Since then, the Trowbridge potter has had other run-ins with the law.
In 2014, Lee was fined by Swindon Magistrates’ Court for failing to deliver a cue he had sold online to the buyer.
Four years later, he appeared in court again for teaching snooker without a permit in Hong Kong.
Stephen Lee career achievements
Ranking Event Victories
- 1998 Grand Prix
- 2001 LG Cup
- 2002 Scottish Open
- 2006 Welsh Open
- 2012 PTC Grand Finals
Other Notable Victories
- 2010 MIUS Cup
- 2012 Asian PTC 2
- 2010 General Cup
- 2000 Nations Cup
- 1992 English Amateur Championship
Featured photo credit: Monique Limbos