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Lawn bowls champion Lawson banned for match-fixing

New Zealand lawn bowls star Gary Lawson has been punished following an inquiry into alleged match-fixing.
New Zealand lawn bowls star Gary Lawson has been punished following an inquiry into alleged match-fixing.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Two-time world lawn bowls champion Gary Lawson banned from top-level competition
  • Lawson also fined after being found guilty of match-fixing at tournament last year
  • His New Zealand fours team was accused of deliberately losing to Thailand
  • Canada complained that Kiwis had done so to earn a more favorable quarterfinal draw

(CNN) -- A two-time world lawn bowls champion has been banned from top-level competition and fined after being found guilty of match-fixing.

Gary Lawson, one of New Zealand's most successful bowlers with a joint-record 10 national titles, has been suspended for six months and fined $NZ5,000 ($3,500) following an incident at a tournament last year.

It means he is likely to miss out on selection for this year's Commonwealth Games in India.

The New Zealand fours team, of which Lawson was the leader, was accused by Canada of deliberately losing a match against Thailand at the Asia Pacific Championships in Kuala Lumpur last August.

He was the skip and was calling the shots. The idea to lose the 17th end would have come from him
--Bowls NZ statement
RELATED TOPICS
  • New Zealand
  • Canada
  • Thailand
  • Bowling

New Zealand were defeated 17-15, having already qualified for post-section play, and Canada alleged the Kiwis lost on purpose to earn a more favorable quarterfinal draw.

The subsequent investigation has caused a furore in a genteel sport most often seen as a recreational pursuit for retirees.

Lawson's teammates Jamie Hill, Shayne Sincock and Shannon McIlroy were fined $NZ1,000 each ($700) but avoided a suspension.

A Bowls NZ judicial committee laid the blame at the 43-year-old Lawson's feet.

"He was the skip and was literally and figuratively calling the shots. We are satisfied that the idea to lose the 17th end would have come from him," it said in a statement on Wednesday.

"From what evidence we have, it is our opinion that once the Canadian complaint was referred to it, Bowls NZ not only proceeded with due expedition with the only course available to it but also was at pains through its counsel to provide all other requirements in a timely manner.

"The delays that occurred subsequently were to a very large degree brought about in an effort to make sure that the respondents, at each stage of the proceedings, were not denied natural justice."

Lawson, who won two world titles on home soil in 2009, last month blamed Bowls NZ chief executive Kerry Clark for blowing the incident out of proportion.

"The Canadians needed to beat Thailand otherwise they were going to miss out on the quarters. When it didn't happen, they put a protest in. But it was always an informal protest and they didn't want it to go further," he told Radio Sport.

"Kerry Clark turned up the next day, and he's the guy who pushed it -- he pushed it at World Bowls level with coach Dave Edwards, and at the end of the day it got blown way out of proportion.

"This is about Kerry Clark himself -- he doesn't like me and I think he hasn't done a very good job. It's just a shame he's used this to have a crack at me."