Snooker: Silence over O'Sullivan drug allegations

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RONNIE O'SULLIVAN was at the centre of another impending controversy last night when it was alleged he had failed a drugs test. The silence, in true diplomatic fashion, was deafening.

Neither his manager, Ian Doyle, nor the governing body, the World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association, would comment on reports alleging the 22-year-old UK champion had tested positive for cannabis during an invitation event in Ireland in March which he won. Instead O'Sullivan must wait until a second sample is tested by Sports Council officials today in London.

Doyle referred the matter to his Glasgow-based solicitor, Jerry Sinclair. "There is a set procedure which has to be followed by WPBSA," Sinclair said. "Part of that procedure involves a second test.''

O'Sullivan faces at least a four-figure fine if it proves positive and he is later disciplined by the governing body.

There is also the question of previous misdemeanours, the most serious of which was an assault on a press officer during the 1996 World Championships in Sheffield. He was fined pounds 20,000 and had a two-year ban suspended for two years and, even though the allegation this time is of a different nature, it falls within that period.