A SCOTTISH snooker ace has been left “heartbroken” after being caught up in a match betting probe, his mother said yesterday.
A match involving 17-year-old Ross Muir is being investigated by the World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association following unusual betting patterns.
Ross was taking part in the Shanghai Masters qualifying stage in South Yorkshire last week when he beat Thailand’s Thanawat Tirapongpaiboon by five frames to nil.
Unusually high sums of money were said to have been placed on Muir to win, causing bookmakers to suspend betting.
Ross’s mother, Margaret, said her son was “gobsmacked” to discover his match was under investigation, having been unaware of anything unusual during play.
She said: “Ross really enjoyed playing in the tournament in Doncaster, but the investigation was really a bolt from the blue.
“He didn’t notice anything different during the match and was totally gobsmacked to be told there might be some kind of wrongdoing involved.
“To be honest, it broke his heart to be dragged into this.”
A source close to the family added: “Ross is a talented young player and there is absolutely no suggestion that he knew anything of the irregularities during the match.”
Muir, ranked 113th in the world, lost in the second round of the qualifying stage the following day, going down 5-2 to world number.58 Adam Duffy.
A second Shanghai Masters qualifier, in which Egyptian Mohamed Khairy defeated Thai player Passakorn Suwannawat 5-4, is also being investigated.
A World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association spokesman said: “We are liaising with the Gambling Commission to establish the available facts about betting on these matches.
“A decision will then be made regarding whether any further action is necessary.”
Snooker’s authorities have been keen to clear its image, with new deterrents and procedures in place to flag-up suspicious activity.
This is Muir’s first year as a professional after earning his two-year pro card in May at Q School at the English Institute of Sport in Sheffield.
He had a tough introduction to professional life when he was pitted against two time world champion Mark Williams, losing 5-1.
After his defeat in the second qualifying tie for the Shanghai Masters, Muir also suffered defeat in his opening qualifier for the Indian Open.
Muir is currently practising eight hours a day as he gets in shape for this week’s European Tour, where he faces England’s Chris Wakelin.
The sport has been blighted by match-fixing allegations involving high-profile players.
In 2010, four-time world champion John Higgins was suspended from the sport after it was alleged that he had agreed to take a bribe to lose frames.
More recently, Stephen Lee, a former top-eight player, was suspended while a match-fixing investigation took place.