World Championship 2017: Ronnie O'Sullivan claims 'unfounded' - Barry Hearn

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Watch O'Sullivan's emotional news conference
2017 World Snooker Championship
Venue: The Crucible Theatre, Sheffield Dates: 15 April-1 May
Coverage: Watch live on BBC TV, BBC Red Button, Connected TVs, online and app.

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.

The WPBSA, the sport's governing body, says it will take no action.

What did O'Sullivan say?

In an 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."

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.

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Ronnie's Wonderwall

How did Hearn respond?

In a statement published on Monday, Hearn said the WPBSA was "exclusively responsible for all disciplinary matters" and he had "no involvement whatsoever".

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.

What did the WPBSA say?

WPBSA chairman Jason Ferguson told the BBC: "In terms of bullying and intimidation - we don't accept that at all.

"I'm more than happy to sit down with Ronnie and discuss the issues."

After beating Wilson, O'Sullivan will play Shaun Murphy or teenager Yan Bingtao in round two at the Crucible Theatre.

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