CFL star Shawn Lemon’s gambling suspension reinstated by league

Lemon cannot play or train until August hearing

An independent arbitrator has reinstated the Canadian Football League (CFL)‘s indefinite suspension of Montreal Alouettes defensive lineman Shawn Lemon for allegedly betting on sports.

The CFL banned Lemon in April amid allegations he had gambled on games. Specifically, in 2021, he allegedly placed a parlay wager worth around $100 on multiple games including one he played in while a member of the Calgary Stampeders.

The three-time Grey Cup champion appealed the suspension in May and per league rules was allowed to return to both training and playing while the appeal was being heard.

Since then, Lemon has played in Montreal’s first four games of the new season and helped the defending champions open with four straight wins.

However, the CFL said in a statement on Thursday that Lemon is now suspended effective immediately until after a postponed hearing. The hearing was originally scheduled for July 5 before Lemon’s appeal and has now been set for Aug. 1-2.

The league requested an immediate ban as soon as Lemon sought to adjourn the hearing to the beginning of August, and said the arbitrator ruled that suspension to be “justified and reasonable.” As a result, Lemon can no longer play games or train while he awaits the hearing.

CFL Players Association supports Lemon

Lemon surprisingly announced his retirement out of the blue in April despite signing a one-year extension with the Alouettes not long before. Days later, he was banned.

A CFL investigation found that the University of Akron product wagered on games but found no impact of Lemon’s wagering on game outcomes.

Alouettes GM Danny Maciocia said in May that the CFL Players’ Association (CFLPA) supported Lemon’s appeal against his ban and had filed a grievance on behalf of Lemon to challenge the CFL decision to suspend him indefinitely.

In light of the investigation, CFL Commissioner Randy Ambrosie stated that the league was “disappointed that the Players’ Association would challenge a decision so fundamental to the integrity of our league.” He added that “the league’s rules prohibiting CFL-related gambling in 2021 were made abundantly clear to all players at the time, yet Mr. Lemon knowingly ignored those rules.

“The prohibition of wagering on the CFL by CFL personnel, including players, is critical to the reputation and standing of the league. The CFL will vigorously defend its position at the arbitration hearing.”

At the time of Lemon’s alleged betting offences, the CFL did not have a mandatory education course for players around gambling. The league recently underwent an extensive internal review of its gambling rules, updating language and protocols.

CFL players are banned from gambling on league games, betting by proxy, or providing insider information that could be used to wager on games or props. Unlike the NFL, CFL players are allowed to bet on other sports.

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