Nate Wellman issued a statement today to clarify his feelings about a recent incident at the Sandusky Bassmaster Northern Open. Wellman, who won the event and thus qualified for the 2012 Bassmaster Classic, was later fined $2,500 and placed on probation for a 1-year period. FLW Outdoors additionally stripped his eligibility for 1 year.
Wellman issued the following statement:
"I regret the statements that I made to my co-angler during the Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Northern Open on Lake Erie Aug. 25-27, 2011. While I never intended for my statements to be anything more than an expression of my envy for his performance that day, looking back I can understand now why my co-angler would have misinterpreted my statements. My statements were wrong and should never have been made.
"To be perfectly clear: I am not a cheater. I've never cheated in the past and will never do so in the future. I've dedicated my entire adult life to bass fishing – the sport that I love – and no amount of money in the world is worth jeopardizing my career that I've spent my life working for. I'm an accomplished angler and am confident about my future. Simply stated: I have no reason to cheat and would never tarnish my accomplishments nor compromise my future by cheating. I respect myself, my family, my sponsors and my sport way too much to bring it all down by cheating.
"I apologize to everyone for my mistake, including B.A.S.S. and my co-angler, for putting them in such an awkward position. Also a sincere apology to the fans of fishing for it was not my intention to tarnish the integrity of the sport."