SAN DIEGO - The cheating incident at the recent U.S. Open involving Southern California pro bass fisherman Mike Hart was the blackest of black eyes for competitive bass fishing.
It was done by an angler who has won, by most reports, an estimated $200,000 in tournaments, plus bass boats and other loot.
At the time, Hart was busted alone, and tournament officials checked to see if any of his non-boaters, or AAA anglers who fished with him, were involved in cheating with Hart. His co-anglers, or non-boaters, were cleared of any wrongdoing at the U.S. Open. Hart was caught stuffing sinkers down the throats of the bass he caught, using a sophisticated method of tying them to fishing line and pushing them down just far enough so they would have been detected if filleted.
But even though Hart was busted, tournament officials wondered if others were involved with the cheating Hart.
WON BASS announced today that one of Hart's fishing buddies and partners, Bill Siemantel, has been cleared of any cheating with Hart.
Here's the WON BASS statement from Harvey Naslund, director of WON BASS:
Much has been discussed in recent weeks regarding the disqualification of one of the Pro anglers at the WON BASS U.S. OPEN. The angler, Mike Hart of California turned in his tournament catch each day loaded with lead sinkers. When confronted with the evidence, Hart admitted his guilt and as a result has been banned from any future WON BASS activities. No other action will be pursued by WON BASS, as this fisherman is paying the highest price anyone could ever pay for such a deed. On one hand it was a day of infamy for organized bass fishing in America, but, on the other hand, it was a major victory for all who have long cared for, and taken steps to protect the integrity of the bass fishing tournament sports. .
The big question that initially was on everyone's mind; "did Mike Hart act alone in this episode at the U.S. Open?" Based upon follow-up investigation by the WON BASS staff, there is no doubt that this man acted alone, without any complicity or knowledge of such activities by his three AAA division partners.
However, the unfortunate saga has not ended there. During the weeks to follow many opinions expressed, charges insinuated, and unfair judgments made regarding Mike Hart's partners with whom he fished with in the various Southern California teams programs during recent years. The big question;
"could Hart also have carried out such activities in these events without his team partners knowing about it". He certainly could have- but doubtful. . However, whether such mis-deeds were applied during these events may never be known. So any opinions expressed casting a shadow on the reputation of such partners, at this point , in my opinion is unfair and unwarranted. And in one case, it is no longer an issue.
Read more at http://www.signonsandiego.com/news/2010/aug/23/cheating-mike-hart-acted-alone-rigging-bass-tourna/