Darts fans have been forced to apologise to former BDO world champion Ted Hankey after accusing him of playing while drunk - when in fact he had suffered a stroke.
The 44-year-old, nicknamed 'The Count', was ridiculed after a poor performance at the Grand Slam of Darts last Tuesday.
Hankey appeared disoriented and suffered a comprehensive 5-0 defeat to Michael van Gerwen, in which he averaged just 59 and missed the board twice.
After the match, Hankey apologised for his performance, saying: "I was shocking I have had the flu since sun(day) night and couldn't see out my left eye".
However, this could not stem a tide of criticism accusing him of drunkenness - Hankey retweeted several abusive comments on his Twitter page. One leading bookmaker even refunded losing bets on him.
But his manager David Stevenson has revealed the results of a hospital CT scan showing that Hankey suffered a stroke.
Stevenson tweeted: "The docs have confirm (sic) that @TedHankeyDarts has had a stroke he's got very high cholesterol and blood pressure and diabetes got to have 6/8 weeks rest and will need more tests in the coming weeks the doctors report will confirm this might use it to sue the people that have been defer-mating (sic) Teds character."
Former world champion John Lowe said: "I am sure we all wish him well," while PDC player Kevin Painter said: "Here's wishing Ted Hankey a speedy recovery. Get well soon pal."
And fans who mocked Hankey earlier in the week have been forced into a climbdown.
A darts forum has published an apology, while one fan tweeted: "Heres wishing Ted Hankey all the best with his health and apologies if any of my Tweets regarding him upset anybody :)"
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