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Rising star of Scottish golf is banned after being branded a cheat

One of Scotland's most promising golfers has become the first person in 19 years to be banned from the European Tour after he was accused of "cheating".

Elliot Saltman, who played in the 2009 Open Championship at Turnberry along with his brother Lloyd, was handed a three-month ban yesterday after a disciplinary hearing into his disqualification from an event in Russia last September.

The 28-year-old was reported by his two playing partners after they claimed he had incorrectly marked his ball five times in one round.

Saltman was accused of marking the ball in one position (at "eight o'clock" on its circumference) on the green and replacing it in another (at "six o'clock"), marginally closer to the hole.

He has now been found to have committed a "serious breach" of golf's rules by a players' committee that was unanimous in its decision to ban him.

He is only the third player to have been handed such a punishment by the European Tour in the past 30 years. David Robertson, the son of a Dunbar butcher, was suspended for 20 years and hit with a £20,000 fine after he was caught cheating in qualifying for the 1985 Open Championship in Kent, and seven years later, Sweden's Johan Tumba was banned for a decade after he altered his scorecard in a tournament.

Saltman's disqualification from the M2M Russian Challenge has been a major talking point in Scottish golfing circles over the past few months, with more accusations of cheating earlier in his career being aimed at him on internet sites.

No action was taken in any of those instances, but now his reputation has been tarnished by the action taken by a Tour committee that included Ryder Cup-winning captain Colin Montgomerie and Paul Lawrie, the 1999 Open champion.

His punishment was revealed in a statement issued by the European Tour. It read: "At a disciplinary hearing of the European Tour Tournament Committee in Abu Dhabi on 18 January, 2011, the committee unanimously found that Elliot Saltman had committed a serious breach of the 2010 Challenge Tour Members Regulation F 1 (b) 6 (Rules of Golf) during the first round of the M2M Russian Challenge Cup on 16 September, 2010, at Tseleevo Golf and Polo Club, Moscow, Russia.

"It was the finding of the tournament committee that Elliot Saltman, who was disqualified from the M2M Russian Challenge Cup, be suspended from participating in all European Tour and Challenge Tour sanctioned tournaments for a period of three months, starting on 19th January, 2011.

"Under Challenge Tour regulations Elliot Saltman, who attended the disciplinary hearing in Abu Dhabi, has the right to lodge an appeal before the board. This appeal must be lodged within 28 days."

Jack Saltman, the player's father and manager, confirmed last night that action was a possibility.

Source: Martin Dempster,
The Scotsman, Thursday, 20th January, 2011