Justin Pipe recalled the scandal which derailed his last World Championship visit as he prepares for an Ally Pally return.

Speaking with the Weekly Dartscast, Pipe discussed ‘Coughgate’, one of the talking points of the 2018 World Championship. Taken to a decider by Bernie Smith, the Taunton thrower was accused of deliberately and audibly coughing as the New Zealand qualifier threw for the match. Smith missed, and Pipe duly won the tie. However, he was slated in all corners for the supposed distraction, and was jeered throughout a 4-0 second round defeat to Phil Taylor.

Pipe didn’t qualify for the World Championship last year – the first he had missed in nine years – but returns to the Ally Pally this month. He’ll face debutant Benjamin Pratnemer, and maybe a few demons alongside.

“Bullying of the highest standard”

The 48-year-old rounded on those who had publicly castigated him, pointing out one offender in particular.

Wayne Mardle – on national TV… to me, that was bullying of the highest standard. For Sky TV to let him go on air and say those things about me was shocking, absolutely disgraceful,” he said.

“People preach about mental health… if I suffered from depression and stuff like that, to watch he said about me on TV could’ve wrecked me.

“It actually ruined my dart career for a good 12 months. I didn’t even want to turn up and play. I’m thinking, what are my fellow pros going to think of me?”

Backlash

“I’ve just been absolutely shredded on national TV, worldwide TV. And I’m getting messages from New Zealand, Australia, America – people saying: ‘You’re a cheat, you shouldn’t be allowed to play’.

“All because of one person, ripping it into me, and Sky TV allowing it,” Pipe summarised.

His story hasn’t changed – the 48-year-old is adamant that the supposed ‘deliberate’ cough was a fabrication.

“And to be fined £3,000 for something I didn’t do – it doesn’t matter what you see on TV, you don’t hear anything.

“It was nothing other than a stifled cough, a grunt within my throat.

“If there’s a coughing noise produced, there’s microphones around the stage so they can hear stuff. There’s never been evidence, ever, that I made a noise.

“Even Bernie Smith said, bless him, ‘Give the guy a break, I never heard a noise’.

“No-one ever says that.

“Bullies should be treated a certain way. Maybe one day, I’ll get my say, or have some payback.”

It isn’t the first setback of a long career. Pipe sensationally claimed that one PDC figure guaranteed him that he would never be allowed into the Premier League, due to his more languid throwing style.

“I was told that I’d never be in the Premier League, and if I ever made it into the top four, they’d change it so the first two qualify and they’d have eight wildcards.

“That was very disheartening…that was a kick up the backside, that hurt me for a couple of years.”

All or nothing

Looking ahead, Pipe wants to start climbing back up the PDC world rankings. The World Championship is the perfect place to start. He admitted he isn’t too knowledgeable about Slovenian opponent Pratnemer, but will approach the match with peak professionalism as he looks to achieve lofty goals.

And if things don’t go to plan, the Somerset ace doesn’t plan to use the Q-School safety net.

“I want to go and play now, I want to be there. Not being on TV last year hurt me – I’d been on everything in the last ten years.

“I’ve regained that hunger. If I lost my Tour Card, I wouldn’t go to Q-School.

“When I lose my Tour Card, I won’t be going,” he revealed.

“I’ve never really had much success at the World Championship. This year… I should be going as the underdog in a way.

“I’ll be preparing for [Pratnemer] like it’s Phil Taylor.

“I’ll be going there to win, and climb the rankings – and hopefully get back into the top 32.”

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Author: Ed McCosh