Ex-CFL player Lemon suspended for betting on games

Recently retired CFL player Shawn Lemon suspended for betting on games
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The Canadian Football League is the latest sports league to take action against a player for violating gambling policy.

The CFL announced on April 24 that retired defensive lineman Shawn Lemon has been suspended indefinitely for allegedly placing bets on league games while an active player. An investigation conducted by the CFL found that the University of Akron product bet on multiple CFL games, including one in which he played during the 2021 season while a member of the Calgary Stampeders.

The investigation found that there was “irrefutable evidence of Mr. Lemon’s participation” in betting on league games and that Calgary coaches, teammates or team personnel were unaware of his actions. However, it stressed that “no evidence was found to indicate matches were in any way impacted by his wagering.”

The league reiterated that players betting on league games is strictly prohibited by its rules.

“The integrity of our game is of the utmost importance,” said CFL Commissioner Randy Ambrosie. “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.”

Lemon had only announced his retirement from football earlier this month, finishing his career with the Montreal Alouettes. The 35-year-old also played for the likes of the Saskatchewan Roughriders and Toronto Argonauts. He is a former All-Star and a three-time Grey Cup winner, including last November for Montreal. He also spent brief time with two NFL teams, the Pittsburgh Steelers and the San Francisco 49ers.

Betting on CFL games is banned for anyone employed by the CFL or its teams. A league spokesperson said the league conducts “annual training for players, coaches, team personnel [and] league office staff.”

“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,” added Ambrosie. “We will continue to work with our authorized gaming operators, partners, and stakeholders to hold our game to the highest standard.”

Wave of betting cases involving athletes continues

Lemon is the second athlete for a prominent Canadian team to be banned from his team’s league in the space of a week.

On April 17, the NBA handed a first-of-its-kind lifetime ban to Toronto Raptors player Jontay Porter for betting on NBA games and passing on insider information to bettors. A major difference between Porter’s case and Lemon’s is that some of Porter’s betting involvement included prop wagers placed on his own individual performance, something the CFL’s statement specifies was not found to be the case with Lemon.

The Lemon news comes the day after a report stated the NFL is reinstating Philadelphia Eagles cornerback Isaiah Rodgers Sr. following a lengthy suspension for violating that league’s gambling rules. Rodgers missed the entire 2023 season after being suspended last June for wagering on NFL games from an online sportsbook.

Rodgers was welcomed back into the fold after the NFL had reinstated five other players earlier in the week after their own respective suspensions: defensive end Shaka Toney, wide receiver Quintez Cephus, defensive end Rashod Berry, safety C.J. Moore and defensive end Demetrius Taylor.