Mark Allen has vowed to smarten up his act after appalling snooker chiefs with his criticism of Chinese players.
Allen last night released a statement in which he apologised for the remarks he made on Sunday night, after losing in the first round of the Betfred.com World Championship to 21-year-old Chinese qualifier Cao Yupeng.
The 26-year-old Northern Irishman said on the night he was "disgusted" Cao did not call a foul against himself at a key stage in the match.
And 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".
World Snooker chairman Barry Hearn called the comments "unacceptable", and Allen's apology may not be a great help to his cause ahead of a disciplinary case, given it took 48 hours to materialise.
Allen has already been fined four times this season, at a cost to him of over £2,500.
He issued a statement through his management On Q Promotions, which said: "It is fair to say that this season has been one of ups and downs. The highs of winning my first ranking title and finishing runner-up in the UK Championships have been overshadowed by some ill-judged comments from myself.
"I realise that I need to ensure that my off-table behaviour matches the standard and level of professionalism I set for my on-table etiquette. I will return for the 2012-13 season with an improved approach to giving my opinions publicly."
His statement made direct reference to Cao, as Allen said: "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.
Cao was stunned to learn of the accusation against him, and Marco Fu was baffled to have been named by Allen, saying he would discuss the issue with a player he knows well.
Allen had caused offence in China before his weekend comments, when branding the island of Hainan, which staged the World Open, as "horrendous" and its people as "ignorant".
Allen's statement continued: "I stand by my opinion that the shot in question was a foul, but I also stand by my previous comments in the press conference that Cao was the better player and fully deserved to win. I genuinely wish him the best of luck for the rest of the tournament.
"I would also like to apologise to World Snooker. I appreciate the hard work by many people to grow our sport and I am truly horrified to think that my actions could be perceived to be detrimental to this."