Home > Sports betting > CFL suspends three-time Grey Cup champion Lemon for betting on own team

CFL suspends three-time Grey Cup champion Lemon for betting on own team

| By Jill R. Dorson
Shawn Lemon has become the third professional athlete playing for a Canadian team to be suspended for breaking sports betting rules.
cfl player suspended betting

On Wednesday (24 April), the Canadian Football League (CFL) announced that it is suspending Lemon – who played on three Grey Cup winning teams during his career – indefinitely.

Lemon, a South Carolina native, unexpectedly announced his retirement on 10 April, which would coincide with the time during which the league was conducting its inquiry.

The CFL suspension comes a week after the NBA banned Toronto Raptor Jontay Porter for sharing confidential information and betting on the league. The Ottawa Senators’ Shane Pinto was also suspended for 41 games for violating league betting rules.

According to a CFL press release, the league found “clear and irrefutable evidence” that Lemon violated league policy, but it says there is no indication of match fixing.

Integrity of the game “of the utmost importance”

The CFL discovered that Lemon bet on league games, including one that he played in, in 2021. Lemon, a defensive lineman, played for the Calgary Stampedes at the time. Single-event sports betting became legal, but not live in Canada, in August 2021. The first and only province to go live so far is Ontario on 4 April 2022.

“The integrity of our game is of the utmost importance,” CFL commissioner Randy Ambrosie said in a statement, according to TSN. “Any other factors – career performance, actions in the community, timing, frequency or size of wagers – hold no weight when the legitimacy of the CFL can be called into question.

“It is our responsibility as a league to investigate and address such abnormalities and it is our collective duty, along with our teams and players, to ensure that sports wagering in no way impacts the quality nor standing of the CFL.”

Lemon played for eight CFL teams during his career, and was an all-star in 2022. He played college football at Akron, where he was a Mid-American All-Conference selection as a senior.

Lemon played for the Montreal Alouettes last season. The team beat the Winnipeg Blue Bombers to win the Grey Cup. Lemon also won Grey Cups with Toronto Argonauts (2017) and Calgary Stampeders (2014).

The CFL did not indicate on what platform that Lemon bet, or where he was when he placed the bets. But at the time that Lemon bet, single-event wagering was legal in Canada, but was not available on the legal market anywhere. There were grey-market operators offering sports betting at that time.

The suspension is the first for the CFL, but marks the 11th North American professional football player banned since sports betting became a states’ rights issue in the US in 2018 and legal in Canada in 2021. Last summer, the NFL suspended 10 players for betting and, in the last week, has reinstated six of those players, including the Philadelphia Eagles’ Isaiah Rodgers.

The NFL Draft begins tonight (25 April) in Detroit. The CFL Draft will take place on 30 April.

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