World Snooker chairman Barry Hearn says accusations directed at him by Ronnie O’Sullivan are “unfounded” and being taken “very seriously”.
The five-time world champion, 41, reacted to a disciplinary letter he received in January by claiming the body used “threatening” language, and adding he would not be “bullied”.
He was speaking after beating Gary Wilson 10-7 at the World Championship.
Hearn said the allegations “damaged” his and World Snooker’s reputation.
In his emotional post-match interview on Sunday, O’Sullivan told BBC Radio 5 live: “I phoned Barry Hearn four weeks ago and told him I am done with you and your board.
“I don’t think I’ve done a lot wrong.
“A friend told me to let the lawyers deal with it. I won’t get involved anymore because I am not being bullied.”
In a statement published on Monday, Hearn said the sport’s governing body – the World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association (WPBSA) – was “exclusively responsible for all disciplinary matters” and he had “no involvement whatsoever”.
O’Sullivan was warned about his behaviour in a letter from the WPBSA after he publicly criticised a referee and swore at a photographer during January’s Masters.
He has since replied to questions from the media with one or two-word answers, has sung an Oasis song in reply, and on another occasion responded as a ‘robot’ in protest at his perceived mistreatment by the sport’s authorities.
Hearn, chairman of the commercial arm of the sport, said: “I 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.”
He said he hoped all parties could “move on” and focus on the “brilliant entertainment” at the World Championship.
O’Sullivan will play Shaun Murphy or teenager Yan Bingtao in round two at the Crucible Theatre.
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