When Ali Carter tweeted that he was considering retirement after losing in this season’s UK Championship his words were treated with widespread scepticism, the kneejerk response of a player disappointed by defeat and frustrated with the vagaries of form.
However, Carter has withdrawn from next week’s World Open and ongoing issues with Crohn’s disease raise a question mark over his professional future.
Ali has fought this condition largely in private, never using it as an excuse for poor results. He has played in tournaments even when not feeling fit.
He told The Times recently of how Crohn’s disease affects him: “When things are really bad you can be curled up on your bed, in excruciating pain, with stomach cramps and spasms.
“I have felt like that out in the arena and all you can do is suffer it. Your stomach bloats and it has been so bad that it was hard to bend down over the table. You take painkillers but then you feel washed out.”
Carter has been one of snooker’s more industrious players, not relying solely on his playing career for income and future security.
He owns a snooker club, has invested in property and is a qualified pilot.
Results have dried up of late and he has a big chunk of points to come off after the World Championship having reached the semi-finals at the Crucible two years ago, which means his top 16 place is under threat.
It would be very disappointing to lose a talent such as Carter from the game but he has to decide what is best for him and his family.
His plight is a reminder that players are not commodities but human beings with human frailties which can and do intrude on their professional lives.