CFL Suspends Recently Retired Player Shawn Lemon for Betting on Games

CFL suspends retired player Shawn Lemon for betting on league games, raising concerns about match integrity and need for clearer gambling policies.

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CFL Suspends Recently Retired Player Shawn Lemon  for Betting on Games

CFL Suspends Recently Retired Player Shawn Lemon for Betting on Games

The Canadian Football League (CFL) has indefinitely suspended recently retired defensive lineman Shawn Lemon after an investigation revealed he bet on CFL games, including one in which he played. The CFL said the investigation found "clear and irrefutable evidence" of Lemon's participation in wagering in 2021 while he was a member of the Calgary Stampeders, but no evidence that any matches were impacted by his actions or that his coaches, teammates, or team personnel were aware of his betting.

Lemon, a 35-year-old native of Charleston, South Carolina, announced his retirement on April 10, 2024, ending a 13-year CFL career during which he was a two-time divisional all-star, a CFL all-star, and a three-time Grey Cup winner. He had recently signed a one-year contract extension with the Montreal Alouettes in December before his surprise retirement.

CFL Commissioner Randy Ambrosie emphasized that the integrity of the league is of utmost importance, stating, "Any factors, such as career performance, the size of the wagers, or other elements, do not matter when the legitimacy of the CFL can be called into question." The league conducts annual training for players, coaches, and staff to ensure that betting on CFL games is not allowed for anyone employed by the league.

Both the Stampeders and Alouettes expressed surprise and disappointment at the revelations and fully support the CFL's decision to sanction Lemon. The Stampeders stated they "unequivocally support the CFL's policy on gambling" and condemned Lemon's actions.

Why this matters: Lemon's suspension is the first punishment involving the CFL since single-game sports betting was legalized in Canada in August 2021, but it is unlikely to be the last as sports gambling continues to proliferate. The incident raises questions about the effectiveness of the CFL's measures to prevent match manipulation and highlights the need for clear guidelines on punishments for gambling-related violations.

The CFL said it will continue to work with its gaming partners and stakeholders to uphold the highest standard of the sport. Declan Hill, a professor of investigations, criticized the CFL's handling of the situation, questioning why they are only taking action years after the alleged incidents occurred and highlighting the lack of criminal laws in Canada regarding match-fixing. Lemon is the third Canadian-based athlete to be suspended or banned by a major sports league for betting-related offenses since the legalization of single-game wagering in 2021.

Key Takeaways

  • CFL suspends Shawn Lemon for betting on CFL games he played in during 2021.
  • Lemon, a 13-year CFL veteran, recently retired before the suspension.
  • CFL emphasizes integrity of the league is paramount, regardless of player's career.
  • Lemon's suspension is first gambling-related punishment since sports betting legalized in Canada.
  • Experts criticize CFL's delayed action and lack of criminal laws on match-fixing in Canada.