The biggest match-fixing hearing in snooker history starts on Monday with 10 Chinese players facing an array of charges.
And former supremo Barry Hearn admits that the timing is “very unfortunate” in the middle of one of the most spectacular World Championships in recent memory.
If players were to be found guilty of all or some of the charges outlined in January, they could face lengthy and even lifetime bans from the sport.
But though Hearn regrets the issue could detract from events at the Crucible, he insists that there is a bigger picture – with governing bodies prepared to accept bad headlines to root out corruption.
Hearn said: ““It is very unfortunate that this match-fixing hearing is starting during the World Championships. I would have very much preferred it to be cleared up as quickly as possible.
“I do regret it wasn’t sooner as it does take away a little from the World Championships. Anything that does that even a few per cent is to be regretted.
“But because it is an independent panel featuring people that have other responsibilities as well, it is not easy. These people are not available from a quick phone call.
“They are top barristers and top people, and you can’t pressurise them. It’s shame about the timing.
“But let’s remember it took 14 months for UKAD to announce that Amir Khan had failed a drugs test. 14 months for a self-appointed association to come up with an announcement.
“In comparison to that timescale, snooker has done quite well to get this hearing now. It could have gone on longer.
“It is important, and whatever people say I do welcome it. There is a much bigger issue here. These players are not yet guilty or innocent – but it was found there is a case to answer.
“And I firmly believe this is an amazing statement from World Snooker over the integrity that exists in snooker, and what we demand.
“I don’t want to pre-empt any decisions. But even if there are some found guilty and banned as a result, and we are hurt in the short term and lose some players…what a statement of the balls of World Snooker.
“They are saying we have principles that we will not deter from. Because I can tell you now, there are a lot of other sporting associations that would not be doing what we are doing here.
“I am actually proud we have a system in place, with the integrity unit. And they have followed the book to the letter. If you take away integrity in sport, you have no sport.
“The punter won’t believe what they are watching, sponsors will walk away, the bookmakers won’t want to quote odds. Ignore it at your peril, and World Snooker should be applauded.”
The charges in full:
Liang Wenbo - being concerned in fixing matches and approaching players to fix matches on the World Snooker Tour, seeking to obstruct the investigation and failing to cooperate with the WPBSA investigation
Li Hang - being concerned in fixing matches and approaching players to fix matches on the World Snooker Tour, seeking to obstruct the investigation and betting on snooker matches
Lu Ning - fixing a match and being concerned in fixing matches and approaching a player to fix a match on the World Snooker Tour, seeking to obstruct the investigation and betting on snooker matches
Yan Bingtao - fixing matches on the World Snooker Tour and betting on snooker
Zhao Xintong - being concerned in fixing matches on the World Snooker Tour and betting on snooker
Zhang Jiankang - fixing a match on the World Snooker Tour, failing to report approaches for him to fix matches and betting on snooker matches.
Chen Zifan - fixing matches on the World Snooker Tour
Chang Bingyu and Zhao Jianbo – each fixing a match on the World Snooker Tour
Bai Langning - being concerned in fixing a match on the World Snooker Tour