Allen issues apology
With the prospect of heavy punishment hanging over him, Mark Allen said sorry for the comments which have rocked Chinese snooker.
The 26-year-old Northern Irishman was fiercely critical of Cao Yupeng on Sunday, saying he was "disgusted" the 21-year-old did not call a foul against himself during his first-round match against Allen at the Betfred.com World Championship.
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".
Hong Kong's Marco Fu said he would talk to Allen, after being named in the World Open champion's criticism.
And World Snooker chairman Barry Hearn has confirmed the sport's disciplinary chiefs could go as far as banning Allen, who has already been fined four times this season, at a cost of over £2,500.
Allen has now admitted he "overstepped the line".
He issued a statement through his management On Q Promotions, which said: "Following my recent comments in the press conference after my first-round defeat to Cao Yupeng, 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.
Allen's comments about Chinese players have gone down badly in the nation where snooker is a boom sport, hosting many major tournaments, and where he has already caused offence this season.
Cao was stunned to learn of the accusation against him, and Fu was baffled to have been named.
Allen has been told he must explain the remarks to the World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association. His contrition in the statement is the first acknowledgement he should have kept the views to himself.
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.
"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."
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". Ironically, Allen went on to win that tournament last month, for his first ranking title.