“Bassmaster Elite Series angler Nate Wellman has been fined and placed on a one-year probation due to violation of B.A.S.S. tournament rule 3(vii), which prohibits ‘suggesting to another competitor that he violate these (B.A.S.S.) rules.’
For the story at Bassmaster.com go here...
Apparently Nate offered to buy a big fish off of his Co-angler a few times. Nate says he was joking, but apparently the Co didn't see it that way and reported the solicitation to tournament officials. Nate has offered an apology, which can be seen at the link.
Honestly, I think Nate probably got off easy on this one. He didn't deny the allegations, just gave them a different interpretation. Naturally some people are kvetching that Nate didn't get a DQ for this. In my Solomonic wisdom I do not think a DQ was called for because he won the tournament fair and square. The fine should have been at least 5 Grand IMO. I also think the Classic berth should have been stripped and vacated because I don't think probation is much of a punishment.
Update: Big Bass Specialist and Bass Blogger Jason Holmer left a comment wondering why a polygraph test wasn't given? I think that is a very valid question. I think that is in the interest B.A.S.S., the integrity of the sport, and Nate provided he really wasn't trying to cheat.
Update: Jason Holmer wrote a well thought out blog post about what he thinks should be done.
Update: BassFan now has an article that gives fuller info from Wellman, the Co-Angler, and Jerry McKinnis.
Update: BassEast has an audio interview with Joe the Co, who is at the center of this. Worth a listen.