Of all the professional snooker players I might just have thought capable of corruption, John Higgins - seemingly the gentleman of the game - would have been the absolute last. The apparent revelation today is a real sickener for his legion of supporters just at the moment he was due to once again become the official world number one after a vintage couple of seasons. His impeccable reputation is one reason why I (perhaps naively) think his explanation that he was "spooked" by the way the conversation was going, and just went along with it to make sure he "got out of Russia" in one piece, might just about be theoretically plausible. I wouldn't say it was likely on the balance of probabilities. But there's the rub - is the burden of proof in a disciplinary matter like this the same as in the criminal law? If so, it's hard to see how his version of events can be entirely disproved, unless there's more to come out.
But the real loser here is, of course, the nation of Ukraine. Nineteen years on from independence, and John Higgins still thinks Kiev is in Russia. Tut, tut.