The ‘Rocket’ again ruffled feathers at the Betfred World Championship on Sunday by accusing Hearn and the two governing bodies of “bullying” and “intimidation”.
Five-time world champion O’Sullivan’s astonishing outburst stemmed from a letter received after the Masters warning him of possible disciplinary action.
O’Sullivan, the eventual winner, criticised both the performance and abilities of referee Terry Camilleri, and swore at a photographer – though ultimately no action was taken
The let-off saw eyebrows raised, however O’Sullivan sees himself as the victim of unfair disciplinary treatment in recent years.
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Barry Hearn has hit back at Ronnie O'Sullivan
Hearn said yesterday in a statement: “I find it necessary to respond. I personally take any accusation of ‘bullying and intimidation’ by me or World Snooker very seriously.
“Unfounded accusations such as these are damaging to World Snooker’s global reputation, as well as my own.
“And we will take whatever action is required to protect this reputation from such inaccurate comments.”
Ronnie O'Sullivan labelled Barry Hearn a bully
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Former world champion Shaun Murphy almost blew the chance to take on O’Sullivan on Thursday, surviving a real scare against the 17-year-old Yan Bingtao from China.
Murphy led 9-5 but needed a fluked red to seal a 10-8 win on the black. He said: “Funny things can happen at the Crucible. I was bang under pressure, and Yan is a future world champion.
“I know I couldn’t talk about lawyers and play good snooker but Ronnie O’Sullivan seems to court the publicity. I think he is completely wrong about being bullied and intimidated.”