Much has been written about O’Sullivan’s family background and the dysfunctional nature of his upbringing (after his father was imprisoned for murder and his mother was jailed for tax evasion, a teenage Ronnie had to care for his younger sister and manage his dad’s chain of Essex sex shops). Inevitably, there have been a litany of incidents in his professional career.
In 1996, he was served with a two-year suspended sentence, a £20,000 fine and told to pay £10,000 to charity after being found guilty of assaulting a tournament official. Two years later, after winning the Irish Masters, he tested positive for marijuana and subsequently stripped of his title.
In his autobiography, O’Sullivan wrote of his battle with drugs:
“I remember getting to every World Championship and thinking, ‘I can’t wait ’til this tournament is over ‘cos then there’s no more drug tests, I can go out and smash it.’”
“I loved a joint. The only problem with a joint is that one spliff follows another, and another. (I would have) any old drink, it didn’t matter. Throw in a few spliffs. Then at 7am the sun would come up and I’d think ‘I’ve done it again’. The birds would be tweeting and I’d think ‘I’m bang in trouble’.”
“At my worst I had to have a joint first thing in the morning just to function. But loads of time snooker got in the way of my benders, rather than the other way round.”