Barry Hearn hits back at Ronnie O'Sullivan's 'bully' claims

Barry Hearn responds to comments made by Ronnie O'Sullivan at the weekend, insisting that appropriate action will be taken to "protect the reputation" of snooker.

World Snooker chairman Barry Hearn has insisted that claims of "bullying" made by Ronnie O'Sullivan are "unfounded accusations".

The five-time world champion was left unhappy by a disciplinary letter received from the governing body earlier this year after criticising a referee and photographer during January's Masters event.

O'Sullivan revealed the extent of his distress on Sunday and made clear that he intended to take the matter further, claiming that the language used by the sport's chiefs was "threatening".

Hearn, chairman of the commercial arm of the sport, has now responded by refuting the comments made by the world's 12th-best player.

"I take any accusation of 'bullying and intimidation' by me or World Snooker very seriously," he is quoted as saying by BBC Sport.

"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."

O'Sullivan beat Gary Wilson in the first round of the World Championship to remain on track for a sixth title success at the Crucible.

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Ronnie O'Sullivan poses with the Masters trophy on January 17, 2016
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