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Page last updated at 13:24 GMT, Sunday, 9 May 2010 14:24 UK

Alex Higgins claims four top players took bribes

Alex Higgins
Alex 'Hurricane' Higgins was one of snooker's biggest stars of the 1970s and 80s.

Former world snooker champion Alex Higgins has claimed that at least four top players have taken bribes to lose tournament matches.

The 61-year-old also revealed that he turned down several big-money offers to throw games in his career.

"The names [of the four players] would shock the public if it was proved," the Belfast player told the Sunday Life.

"But I know there are plenty of repulsive professional players who have thrown games for bookies."

Higgins added: "Just because they wear crisp white shirts doesn't make them clean - it's all going on right under people's noses."

Higgins, the world champion in 1972 and 1982, claims Greek gamblers offered him £18,000 in 1979 to lose his Benson & Hedges Masters quarter-final against Perrie Mans and £20,000 to cheat at the Irish Masters in 1989 but rejected both.

"I wanted nothing to do with any of them. I couldn't live with myself if I did it," he said.

Higgins has battled throat cancer in recent years but is scheduled to appear in the new World Seniors Championship in November.

Snooker has been rocked by a number of corruption allegations in recent years.

His unrelated namesake John Higgins is currently suspended from tournaments pending an inquiry into allegations which appeared in the News of the World.

Fellow Scots Stephen Maguire and Jamie Burnett are awaiting the outcome of a police inquiry into betting patterns on their UK Championship match in 2008 and England's Stephen Lee is currently on bail as part of an inquiry by West Midlands Police into suspicious betting patterns.

Australian Quinten Hann, meanwhile, was banned from the sport for eight years in 2006 after a disciplinary panel found him guilty of having "knowingly entered in an agreement to join in an unlawful enterprise to fix results for financial gain", an allegation he denied.

In 1995, South Africa's Peter Francisco was banned for five years after losing 10-2 to Jimmy White in the first round of the World Championship.

There had been an unusually high proportion of bets on a 10-2 scoreline and a panel of three ex-players decided some of Francisco's shot making and shot selection was so extreme as to constitute cheating.

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Bad Boys: Silvino and Peter Francisco
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