Banned snooker player Joe Jogia says corruption is rife in the game

By Shamoon HafezBBC Sport
Joe Jogia

Snooker player Joe Jogia has protested his innocence after being banned from the game following a probe into suspicious betting patterns - but claims corruption is rife in the sport.

Jogia, 36, insists he was made "a scapegoat" for widespread corruption in snooker which he says he will expose.

The player said: "I'm going to go and tell my stories now, about people on the tour and what they get up to."

World Snooker said it "strongly refuted" the claims.

Jogia was banned for two years and ordered to pay £2,000 costs by the World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association (WPBSA).

The suspension, until after the 2014 World Championship, comes after a large amount of small bets were placed on Matthew Selt to win their shoot-out match in January.

The investigation found that 19 bets were made or attempted at betting shops in the Leicester area on Selt to win.

Jogia, who is based in Leicester, pulled out of the tournament with injury before the game went ahead.

The world number 57 told BBC Sport: "I've done nothing wrong, I didn't even play the match, it's shocking.

"With everything that's going on in snooker - the corruption - they couldn't take it out on the top boys because of where they are in the world but I've done nothing wrong and all of a sudden they take it out on me. I've been made a scapegoat."

The WPBSA said that Jogia was "in repeated contact with two persons placing the bets who were known to him as associates".

Records showed that 33 text messages were sent and three calls were made to one of the persons placing the bets and 42 text messages and one call to the other by Jogia.

But he claimed: "I know everyone, there's nothing in it.

"They said mine wasn't a serious case which is why the police were not involved but I get the biggest punishment, why's that?

"I wasn't expecting a ban at all - the match never happened. [At the hearing] they mentioned me in the same league as the Pakistani cricket player Salman Butt, and Quinten Hann. It's a liberty, an absolute liberty what they've done."

Jogia confirmed he will not be appealing the ban because he cannot afford it.

"I don't know what I'm going to do now, I've got to find a job. I'm done, I'm finished with snooker. They've ruined me."

Nigel Mawer, chairman of the WPBSA disciplinary committee, said: "We look very seriously at any claims of corruption. We want a clean sport and take all possible steps to do that. I would be keen to hear from anyone who believes there are corrupt practices going on but we do not believe this is widespread and strongly refute what Joe has said.

"Of course, we can understand how upset Joe is at the outcome but the fact remains we conducted a very thorough investigation, as we always do, and he was found to have breached the rules. It is something we take very seriously - the penalty for breaching the betting laws is a life ban.

"In this case Joe received a two-year ban as it was felt his actions were at the lower end - he cast a shadow over the sport as opposed to gaining from corrupt practices."

Mawer, a former Metropolitan Police detective chief superintendent who also ran a corruption enquiry into Pakistani cricketers, added: "We do have a number of ways players can bring corruption to our attention - we have a confidential hotline and people can always go to the Gambling Commission if they don't want to go through us."

The last player to be banned from snooker for match-fixing was Australian Quinten Hann in 2006 after he was found guilty of breaking rules by agreeing to lose a match at the China Open in exchange for money.

He was given an eight-year ban and £10,000 fine.