With the prospect of heavy punishment hanging over him, Mark Allen last night said sorry for the comments which have rocked Chinese snooker.
The 26-year-old Antrim man was fiercely critical of Cao Yupeng on Sunday, saying he was "disgusted" his rival did not call a foul against himself during his first-round match against Allen at the World Championship.
Allen, who lost 10-6 to the Crucible debutant, also said that "blatant cheating" might be "a bit of a trait for the Chinese players". Hong Kong's Marco Fu had said he would talk to Allen, after being named in the World Open champion's criticism.
And World Snooker chairman Barry Hearn has confirmed the sport's disciplinary chiefs could go as far as banning Allen, who has already been fined four times this season, at a cost of over £2,500. Allen has now admitted he "overstepped the line".
He said: "Following my recent comments in the press conference after my first-round defeat to Cao Yupeng, I would like to formally apologise to anyone who may have been offended.
"Having taken some time to reflect on my comments I can appreciate that I overstepped the line at a time when I was heavily influenced by the emotions of a disappointing defeat.
"I would like to take this opportunity to apologise to Cao Yupeng if he felt that my comments were insinuating he were a cheat."
Allen had claimed Cao, who was leading 5-4 at the time, committed a push shot early in the 10th frame. Television replays of the incident did not clearly show a foul.
Meanwhile, Ronnie O'Sullivan claimed his head is strong and his game is trying to keep up after sprinting to an emphatic opening 10-4 win over Peter Ebdon. The 36-year-old was tormented by a loss to Ebdon in the quarter-finals seven years ago, and this was their first Crucible meeting since.
It was one-sided, despite Ebdon saying O'Sullivan would need to improve in later rounds. Seeking a fourth world title, O'Sullivan led 7-2 overnight and kept comfortably clear to register what should have been a thoroughly satisfying win.
O'Sullivan was far from trumpeting his own title prospects afterwards though, saying: "It's each match at a time really, there's no point getting carried away. I've had a decent season, but it would be nice to win a few matches here."
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