World Snooker Championship 2012: Mark Allen could face ban

Allen faces possible ban after his outrageous claim that Chinese players 'cheat'

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UPDATED:

16:37 GMT, 23 April 2012

Mark Allen has been warned he could be banned for his 'unacceptable' claim that Chinese snooker players lack integrity.

World Snooker chairman Barry Hearn said in a Crucible press conference that he would demand disciplinary chiefs treat Allen's remarks seriously.

Hearn stated his concern that outspoken players are putting their fellow professionals' careers at risk, with the danger that the sport as a whole could suffer.

Claim: Mark Allen accused his first round opponent of cheating

Claim: Mark Allen accused his first round opponent of cheating

'This is a very good time to be a snooker player,' Hearn said. 'It's not a good time to be an idiot.

'Everywhere we go, these players are ambassadors of snooker. They're chaperones of the image of the game.

'In major expanding markets, and
there's no doubt China is that, big time, they have to bear the
responsibility of those comments and the potential loss – not to
themselves or whether they don't get a visa, but the potential loss to
the game in general and the desire for the rest of the players to earn a
living playing their chosen sport.

'They have responsibility at every
level and it concerns me that sometimes it's a case that the mouth is
functioning but the brain has not been consulted.'

The World Professional Billiards and
Snooker Association have confirmed they will be writing to Allen to
initiate disciplinary proceedings. They have already fined Allen on four
occasions this season, costing the 26-year-old Northern Irishman over
2,500.

WPBSA chairman Jason Ferguson said:
'The WPBSA is responsible for the governance of snooker worldwide and
takes very seriously comments made which could be perceived to be
directed at a particular nation. The chairman of the disciplinary
committee Nigel Mawer is making further inquiries into this incident.
Mark Allen will be given 14 days to respond to the letter.'

Surprise: China's Cao Yupeng shocked Allen to progress to the second round

Surprise: China's Cao Yupeng shocked Allen to progress to the second round

Allen spoke out after suffering a
surprise Crucible defeat to world No 81 Cao Yupeng on Sunday, when
he believed his opponent should have called a foul against himself
midway through the match. The Antrim potter said he was 'disgusted' that
Cao had not owned up to an offence, however television replays were
inconclusive.

Allen also said: 'It seems to be a
bit of a trait for the Chinese players because there have been instances
in the past, of fouls and blatant cheating going on.'

Allen is not the only player to have
riled Hearn, with Mark Williams' foul-mouthed Twitter criticism of the
Crucible venue on Friday bewildering him.

Hearn said: 'Mark Allen's comments at
the press conference yesterday, and Mark Williams' comments on his
Twitter (account), are unacceptable to World Snooker.

'If these comments look likely to
bring the game of snooker into disrepute, then the very sternest
disciplinary action will be taken against both players.

'It is time for players to
understand. Prize money has more than doubled in two years. It comes at a
price; it's called professionalism.

Barry Hearn

Barry Hearn

'Any player that decides to ignore
the players' contract, that he signs to take advantage of these new
benefits in snooker, means they are risking their position on the main
tour. This is zero tolerance.

'We have the powers to do anything providing we've acted reasonably. It's a fine, a potential suspension, or a ban.'

Discussing two-time world champion Williams, Hearn said the Welshman's remarks were 'absolutely lunacy'.

Allen has already caused offence in
China this season, branding the island of Hainan, which staged the World
Open, as “horrendous” and its people as 'ignorant'.

He was fined 1,000 for those comments, but Hearn said on Monday: 'I don't think it's a strong enough disincentive by any means.

'That's why our recommendation is
that if he's found guilty this time I would expect the WPBSA to take a
more serious approach at the level of fines. How far do we go until the
players understand their responsibility to the game

'There comes a point when you have to
say enough is enough. And I'm trusting the WPBSA disciplinary system to
take that into account. If they don't take it into account, we've got to
look at our own rules again. It will be taken into account.'