All hell broke loose at a competitive fishing tournament in Cleveland, Ohio last week, when two proclaimed winners were accused of weighing down their winning catch with lead weights and fish fillets.
On the heels of last month’s chess grandmaster anal bead conspiracy saga, it’s the latest scandal to rock the world of competitive sports and has gone insanely viral in doing so.
It all went down Sept. 30 at Ohio’s Lake Erie Walleye Trail (LEWT) tournament when Jacob Runyan and Chase Cominsky — considered two of the best anglers in the sport — were blamed for weighing down at least one of their winning walleye fish.
According to CNN, the tournament’s director, Jason Fischer, became suspicious when Runyan’s freshwater fish weighed in at seven pounds. By Fischer’s estimate, the fish should have weighed about four pounds.
“I thought, there’s just no way,” Fischer told CNN. “I could also hear the crowd grumbling, like ‘no way, there’s no way.'”
“I physically felt the fish, I could feel hard objects inside the fish,” he said.
The alleged cheating was caught on camera, when Fischer sliced into the animal and pulled out a lead ball.
“We got weights in fish,” Fischer can be heard shouting in the video, before the crowd erupts in anger, hurling insults and swearing at Runyan.
“You just lost everything,” one person can be heard yelling, as Fisher tells Runyan to leave and orders the crowd not to attack him.
The crowd continues yelling and swearing, insisting that the police should be alerted to the alleged cheating.
‘How about me’: Man arrested after commenting under police ‘Most Wanted’ list
Google releases Canada’s top searches of 2022
“How many f–king tournaments have you done this in?” someone else demands to know.
Pennsylvania news outlet The Herald reported that Cominsky and Runyan were knocked off the top of the leaderboard and ejected from the competition. Before the scandal, they were on track to win the season standing for the professional fishing team of the year.
Participants in the LEWT face off to see who can catch the highest weight for a bucket of five walleyes caught in Lake Erie.
Fischer shared a statement to Facebook on Monday. He started out by apologizing to anyone offended by the amount of profanities that were used in the now-viral videos.
“We witnessed one of the most dishonest and disgusting acts the fishing world has ever seen, in live-time,” Fischer said.
“The individuals involved here appeared to have put greed and ego in front of anything else, forever tainting our sport,” he continued, adding that tournament fishing is “so much more than what’s being highlighted right now on social media.”
Sports Illustrated reports that isn’t the first time Runyan and Cominsky have been caught in a controversial situation at a fishing event. According to the outlet, the pair were disqualified from last year’s Fall Brawl fishing tournament after one of the them failed a lie detector test. (Apparently, polygraph tests are often administered at fishing tournaments.)
Troy Krause, a Wisconsin fishing guide, was watching the chaos at the tournament unfold online and screen-recorded the action. He shared the video to TikTok, where it’s now amassed more than 7.5 million views.
Krause also said that the fishing community has suspected for a while that Runyan and Cominsky were up to something fishy after they racked up a long string of tournament wins in the past year.
“You’re gonna tell me that these two guys are gonna win every tournament on a big lake like that? No. You gotta be a little bit realistic,” he said. “I think they just got carried away and they finally got caught, which is good.”
Runyan and Cominsky were jockeying to win a share of almost US$30,000 in prize money collected from the tournament competitor entry fees. They have now been banned from the LEWT and will not be invited back.
“They would never be able to fish at mine,” Fischer told CNN of his tournament.
An investigation has been launched by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, who will prepare a report for the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor’s Office.