TAUNTON'S Justin Pipe has been caught up in controversy at the World Darts Championships after being branded 'despicable' following a coughing incident in his first round victory over Bernie Smith.

Smith was leading 2-1 in the deciding set and had a chance to check out for victory, with footage appearing to show Pipe coughing behind his opponent prior to the decisive throws.

Sky Sports pundit Wayne Mardle was not impressed, and said: "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.

“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.

“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.

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

Pipe hit back and issued a statement through the PDC, which said: “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.”

Pipe turned round the final set to take it 3-2 and set up a second round clash with Phil Taylor on Saturday.