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Saltman: this stigma will endure for the rest of my life

Elliot Saltman has confirmed he will not appeal against the three-month playing ban he received from the European Tour but revealed that, such was his determination toprove his innocence, he undertook and passed a lie detector test.

Although he fiercelydenies cheating, the 28-year-old, who was suspended for a serious breach of regulations during last September’s Russian Challenge Cup, has accepted both his punishment and the inevitable stigma that will cast a shadow over his career.

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“I wish to emphasise again that I do not cheat, have never cheated, and do not believe I have done anything wrong,” said Saltman, whose 28-day window for lodging any form of appeal would have closed tomorrow. “I want to get back to playing as quickly as I can, because playing is the best way to show people that I am not a cheat.”

Since he was disqualified from the Russian event last year for incorrectly marking his ball on a number of occasions, Saltman has denied any wrong-doing, while he has also been forced to defend himself against claims made on internet sites concerning indiscretions throughout his career.

The revelation that he hired the services of a Polygraph expert and underwent a lie detecting test was a remarkable development in a long-running saga. Asked if he incorrectly marked his ball during the Russian Challenge Cup and if he had ever cheated at any tournament during his career, Saltman answered “no” on both occasions.

The examiner, a member of the British and American Polygraph Association, found no traces of stress in the answers and concluded: “It is my professional opinion that the examinee is truthful.”

Despite this conclusion, any case Saltman’s lawyers wanted to build floundered on the fact that they were unable to obtain full statements from Stuart Davis and Marcus Higley, the two players who reported the ball-marking incidents in Russia, in advance of the appeal. With any appeal likely to be heard by the same tournament committee which meted out the ban at a disciplinary hearing in Abu Dhabi last month, Saltman’s team felt a case would be seriously compromised, leaving the Archerfield man to take the punishment on the chin.

“It has been a terrible few months,” admitted Saltman, who earned his tour card at December’s Q School. “I have worked all my life to be a professional golfer. To get my tour card and then have this happen is unimaginable.

“To have people who don’t know me, and who know nothing about me, go out in the media and question my honesty is really hurtful. To be accused of being a cheat is a terrible stigma, and sadly is one that I will now almost certainly have to carry for the rest of my life.

“I know there is a lot of sympathy for me among the players, although I am sure a few will give me a frosty reception. That will be difficult, but I will have to live with it.

“Let me put the record straight. I love the game of golf, and I respect its traditions. I deeply regret any problems the publicity surrounding this matter has brought to the game or to the European Tour. I don’t cheat, and I don’t knowingly break the rules. I hope that I can be allowed to put this deeply unhappy, and in my view unfair, episode behind me.”

Saltman’s ban will be lifted in mid-April but, the Scot will not be able to use his Tour card until May. The Volvo China Open, the first event on the schedule when his suspension ends, is co-sanctioned with the Asian Tour and therefore has limited places for European Tour members.

His category may afford him a place in the Spanish Open starting on May 5, while he would almost certainly gain a spot in the following week’s Iberdrola Open in Mallorca.

Saltman’s ban only applies to the European and Challenge Tour but, despite making a return on the Hi5 Pro Tour in Spain last week, his playing chances will be limited on that circuit as it ends at the start of March.

He is not a member of the Tartan Tour, while the PGA EuroPro Tour, where he won in 2007, does not properly start until June. Unless he bounces around satellite events in Europe, Asia or America, Saltman is facing months of meagre pickings.

Scot passed lie detector test but will not appeal ‘cheating’ ban, reports Nick Rodger

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