Cullen blasts “sad” increase of gamesmanship in professional darts

Bradford thrower Cullen looks on (credit:Lawrence Lustig/PDC)

Joe Cullen has hit out at the use of gamesmanship in professional darts after he was accused of cheating by an opponent in a recent tour event.

Cullen, the world number 17, recently revealed on social media that an unnamed opponent had branded him a "cheat" following a match in a Players Championship event - an accusation he strongly denies.

Following a string of high-profile incidents at the back end of 2018, the Darts Regulation Authority - responsible for governing the sport - updated its rules on gamesmanship in a bid to clamp down on deliberate foul play.

They included granting the referee or Tournament Director the power to impose sanctions for persistent gamesmanship, aggressive behaviour, physical contact, visible or verbal obscenity or encouraging the referee to issue a warning to an opponent.

Cullen, however, admits that gamesmanship remains commonplace in top level darts but insists he would never resort to deliberately distracting an opponent.

"I was a victim the other week," Cullen told Live Darts.

"The way I see it, you can call it gamesmanship or whatever you want, but in my eyes it's cheating.

"I've never ever been called a cheat in my life and there was an incident the other week, I won't mention names or what went on, but you can tell the reaction from somebody if somebody gets called out on stage, you can tell by their reaction whether it's true what the other player is saying.

"My reaction was "I'm not having it - I'm not a cheat".

"There's a lot goes on that a lot of people don't see.

"There are people who are very heavy-footed on stage, but it is what it is.

"People say 'get on with it, it's old school' but to me it's as good as pushing me in the back while I'm trying to throw a dart - it's cheating.

"I genuinely think it's sad, I honestly do."

Cullen, 29, is regarded as one of the sport's most promising emerging stars and believes the 'culture' of gamesmanship lies largely with the older generation of players.

He added: "There's never been a point in the game, I could be playing Michael van Gerwen when he's absolutely on fire, never once would it enter my head to think "I need to do this to put him off.

"If my game's good enough on the day, it's good enough, but if it's not - it's not.

"The old guard of players don't think like that, they think they need to try and get inside your head and nine times out of ten the top players are going to be good enough, they're where they are for a reason.

"Why feel the need to try and put somebody off?"



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Cullen blasts “sad” increase of gamesmanship in professional darts

Joe Cullen has hit out at the use of gamesmanship in professional darts after he was accused of cheating by an opponent in a recent tour event.

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