Saltman returns to action after three- month cheating ban at Spanish Open

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Elliot Saltman was prohibited from playing on the European Tour for three months, but only missed one tournament that he normally would have gotten into.
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PA Sport

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Published: Monday, May 02, 2011 | 5:16 p.m.

Elliot Saltman has his first chance to try to put a three-month European Tour ban behind him at this week's Spanish Open.

The 29-year-old from Scotland, suspended in January for a serious breach of the rules relating to the marking of his ball during a Challenge Tour event last September, was called out of the reserves and into the tournament on Sunday.

Saltman, whose brother Lloyd also came through the European Tour Q-School at the end of last season, accepts he now has a stigma that will be difficult to shake off.

"I wish to emphasize again that I do not cheat, have never cheated and do not believe I have done anything wrong," he said in a statement after deciding not to appeal against the first European Tour ban since 1992. "It has been a terrible few months. 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,” he added. "I know there is a lot of sympathy for me amongst the players as well, although I am sure that a few will give me a frosty reception. That will be difficult, but I will just have to live with it."

Saltman has actually missed just one tournament during his suspension. He would have earned a place in only the Sicilian Open in March.

"That doesn't seem right to me -- the punishment should fit the crime,” said Ernie Els. "Maybe there's been some leniency shown because it was a first offense, but if you play professional golf you should know how to mark a ball on the green.

"If he doesn't know or he doesn't understand then he needs to be taught it,” Els added. “I think he will be in for a hard time from other players."