WATCH: Darts player Justin Pipe denies 'cough-gate' claim that he deliberately tried to put off his opponent
Justin Pipe has denied trying to put his opponent off by coughing on stage at the William Hill World Championship.
Pipe saw off Bernie Smith in his first-round clash, setting up a prestigious second-round meeting with the retiring Phil Taylor in the process.
For anyone who hasn’t seen it, this is what Justin pipe does when his opponent is about to throw the winning double pic.twitter.com/yYag8ojkwR— Liam stubbs (@bwfc_liam) December 20, 2017
However, footage of him coughing on stage as Smith threw his darts has since emerged and prompted Sky Sports pundit and former World Championship semi-finalist Wayne Mardle to say: "It looks absolutely despicable behaviour by a professional darts player.
"Every time I see it, I think to myself, 'How desperate are you?'"
Mardle went on to say it was "disgusting" but world number 27 Pipe has moved to defend himself, saying Smith had no issue and that his only focus is facing Taylor.
"I'm bitterly disappointed with the comments which were made on Sky Sports and it's not nice for me and my family to hear," he said in a statement.
"I would never do something to put another player off and Bernie didn't say anything to me on the night. As far as I'm aware there is no issue from his side and this has been blown out of proportion.
"My focus is on preparing for my second-round game against Phil Taylor on Saturday. It's an honour to be playing him in his final tournament and I want to concentrate on that match."