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Well, this is mixture of sad, frustrating, and embarrassing.
In a story broken by Wired2Fish on Tuesday, October 29th, a successful tournament crappie angler has earned a lifetime ban for cheating.
During the Crappie USA $125,000 Classic, held on Oct 25th and 26th at Old Hickory Lake in Tennessee, tournament director Darrell Van Vactor and his staff were informed by multiple Crappie USA members of a possibly major tournament infraction. As an organization with a rich history of fair and successful events, this was not something taken lightly.
Paul Turner, an angler from Covington, Tennessee, was accused of leaving tournament waters and fishing nearby Barkley Lake (before returning to Old Hickory Lake with his catches). It goes without saying that this is entirely unacceptable.
Fool Me Once…
Unfortunately (but perhaps unsurprisingly), this is not the first time Turner has been accused of such foul play.
Turner was victorious at the Truman Lake Crappie Masters Event on August 17th (which carried a grand prize of $5,000). Competitors claimed his winning fish (totaling 11.54 lbs) looked suspicious for the region.
At that time, Turner was also sponsored by B&M Poles.
In response to the accusations, the company removed Turner from its pro staff two days later on Monday, August 19th. However, a post on social media from October 28th showed Turner in a jersey adorned with the B&M logo sparked questioning, so the company took to Facebook to clarify the status of its relationship with the disenfranchised angler.
To all of our FB Friends,
As many of you already know, there was a situation during the recent Crappie USA Tournament on Old Hickory Lake that was held October 25-26. Based on the images that are being disseminated across multiple social media platforms, we feel the need to inform our friends and supporters that Paul Turner was not a part of the B’n’M Family when the incident occurred this past weekend. Our relationship with Mr. Turner was dissolved on August 19, after the conclusion of another tournament during which we believed something suspicious occurred.
As a participant in the Crappie industry for over 70 years, we strive to uphold the highest of standards whether it relates to our product, our customer service, or in this case, our Pro Staff. Our Pro Staff and Ambassadors are held to extremely high standards and our expectation is that they will be good stewards of the great sport of crappie fishing.
Thanks for all of your support! – B&M Poles (via Facebook)
Two months later, Turner was again the subject of controversy.
Upon taking the stage for the Crappie USA weigh-in, officials gave Turner two options.
A Lifetime Ban from Crappie USA Events
The first option was to weigh his fish and receive both a check and a visit from the authorities for felony fraud. The second option was to accept a disqualification and lifetime ban from all Crappie USA tournaments.
In a smart move, Turner opted for the latter.
It remains to be seen whether other organizations will also place a ban on Turner. That said, it’s hard to imagine many will want to risk a similar turn of events.
Have similar tournament fishing experiences? Any thoughts on how the situation was handled? Let us know in the comments below!