According to today's Daily Mirror, Ronnie O’Sullivan has alleged that the draw for the first round of the 888.com World Championship was fixed so that he would have to play Ding Jun Hui.
In an interview with ZOO Magazine, O’Sullivan said: “My first thought was ‘that’s a hard one’. My next was ‘someone’s fixed the draw’.
“I’ve had Marco Fu, Stephen Maguire twice and now Ding in the first round. It’s definitely fixed. Whoever is doing that is trying to stitch me up.”
There is a suggestion that O'Sullivan was joking but he must have known these comments would be reported.
The draw was made the day before it was televised on BBC’s Breakfast programme by its presenters Bill Turnbull and Sian Williams.
World Snooker had two of their staff present to ensure it was conducted honestly. I personally have no doubt that it was.
However, as I said at the time, they left themselves open to such allegations because it wasn’t done live.
Five major bookmakers even suspended betting because of fears that those who knew the draw – which turned out to be far more than just the Breakfast team – would have a bet.
“It was 100% genuine,” a World Snooker spokesman said this morning. “The balls were drawn randomly by two BBC presenters, representatives from 888.com and World Snooker were there, and there was an independent auditor.”
If World Snooker invited such a claim by the way they chose to conduct the draw, they also invited further trouble from O’Sullivan by not taking a harder line after his York walkout.
You’ll recall he was taken out to lunch by its chairman, Sir Rodney Walker, who has written to the disciplinary committee pleading leniency for the unpredictable former world champion.
He also permitted O’Sullivan to snub the media at the Saga Insurance Masters. At the time I wrote: “It will blow up in his [Sir Rodney's] face at some point and, when it does, you won't find a single journalist who has any sympathy whatsoever for him.”
That day has come.