There are some lines in sport that you just don't cross, and it looks as if Justin Pipe has not only crossed that line, but stood on the other side of it coughing to try to put his opponent off.

During his World Darts Championship first round match against Kiwi qualifier Bernie Smith, Pipe was seen leaning in to his opponent and coughing directly at him as he tried to throw the match-winning dart.

Smith missed the dart at double 10 and Pipe went on to win, and will face Phil 'The Power' Taylor in the second round.

He probably won't have the crowd on his side for that one,though, given what he appears to have done. Sky Sports commentator Wayne Mardle wasn't best pleased with him either.

"It didn't look good, did it? Every time I see it I think, 'How desperate are you?' It looks absolutely despicable behaviour by a professional darts player," said Mardle.

Wayne Mardle

Wayne Mardle. Credit: PA

"As we saw on the second VT [video tape], Bernie Smith is there and Justin Pipe moves in to get closer... then he lets out the cough.

"I have been around darts so long and this sort of thing has been going on for years, where someone tries to talk somebody out of the game - but that has gone, what the likes of Peter Manley used to do."

He continued: "What was allowed on a football pitch in the 1970s is not allowed now and it's exactly the same up there (in darts) now.

"If Justin Pipe needed to cough, he made no effort to turn away. That was a tactic for advantage, that was a tactic to make Bernie Smith miss.

"He got his way - whether Bernie heard it or not is absolutely irrelevant. The intent is there and the DRA (Darts Regulatory Authority) have to do something.

"If Phil Taylor did that, it would be reported on the back page of every newspaper. That was disgusting."

Justin Pipe

Justin Pipe. Credit: PA

Sure, it seems like a pretty stupid and childish thing to do, especially when it's live on TV and in front of thousands at Alexandra Palace, but can a person coughing really put off a darts player when the noise of thousands of beery fans dressed as nuns doesn't?

As it happens, Pipe denies that he did anything wrong at all. He released a statement saying: "I'm bitterly disappointed with the comments made on Sky Sports and it's not nice for me and my family to hear.

"I would never do something to put another player off and Bernie didn't say anything to me on the night. As far as I'm aware there is no issue from his side and this has been blown out of all proportion.

"My focus is on preparing for my game against Phil. It is an honour to be playing him in his final tournament and I just want to concentrate on that match."

Perhaps he just has a cold, it is that time of the year after all.

Featured Image Credit: Sky Sports

Tom Wood

Tom Wood is a freelance journalist and LADbible contributor. He graduated from University of London with a BA in Philosophy before studying for a Masters in Journalism at the University of Salford. He has previously written for the M.E.N Group as well as working for several top professional sports clubs. Contact him on [email protected]

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