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Suspended Player Update

Monday, January 28, 2002

The DCI made a strong statement today regarding the punishment of high-level players, and it seems that no one is above the long arm of the law.

Both Ryan Fuller, third all-time on Magic's lifetime earnings list, and Bob Maher, Jr., a past Pro Tour champion, were handed suspensions by the DCI Penalty Committee that are effective January 28, 2002.

Fuller, formerly a prominent member of Team, made his mark by winning several high-profile events including Canadian Nationals 2000, the Masters events in Tokyo and San Diego, and Grand Prix - Prague and Moscow. He is now suspended for one year for what amounts to a aggregate of several infractions, all of which combine to mark him as one of the more disruptive players on the Pro Tour. Included in the litany of charges against Fuller over the past few seasons are a disqualification from Pro Tour Los Angeles 2000 for attempted collusion, unsporting conduct at Grand Prix - Curitiba, many infractions relating to playing cards improperly, and the accumulation of more warnings at Premier Events than any other player over the past two years (just ahead of expatriate Trey Van Cleave). The proverbial back-breaker came when Fuller consciously did not participate in a sealed deck swap at the beginning of Grand Prix - Cape Town.

"Fuller's history of infractions contributed significantly to his penalty," said DCI Policy Manager Chris Zantides. "His case is a good example of how small warnings can add up, and that's one of the reason the DCI tracks all penalties." So while one warning for a major procedural error, unsporting conduct, or slow play is not very serious, a lifetime of them is a clear indication to the DCI that further actions may be necessary.

Bob Maher, winner of Pro Tour - Chicago 1999, is being punished for a different - and possibly more serious - crime: tournament fraud. Along with fellow Wisconsin residents Jason Moungey and Chad Butterfield, Maher was involved in considerable tournament fraud that increased the rating of Maher and Moungey, resulting in Maher getting invited to World Championships.

Butterfield was the official Tournament Organizer of these activities, and Moungey also used his inflated rating to secure PT invites; the two of them received the standard five-year suspensions for tournament fraud, a la Theron Martin. Maher received a reduced six-month suspension thanks to the DCI's "whistleblower" clause.

The whistleblower clause allows people to come forward to the DCI regarding any tournament fraud they may have committed or been involved in. They must do so with 100% disclosure and full honesty, and then, depending on other variables, their suspensions stand to be much smaller than peoples' who do not turn themselves in.

Maher did just that, turning himself in to the DCI after Grand Prix - Seattle in January, 2000. Maher approached the DCI with some information after his relationship with the other parties in the incident had soured. He admitted his involvement in the tournament fraud and expressed regret for his actions: "I wished it never happened and I'm a different person now." After a long and grueling investigation, all involved parties have been punished and the false tournaments are being stricken from the records.

Zantides said, "Because Maher helped with the investigation, he received what we call the 'whistleblower' penalty. This is similar to the Kenny Crawford situation [involving Theron Martin], wherein Kenny provided complete information and allowed the DCI to clear up dozens of fraudulent tournaments. Although Maher gained much more than Crawford, he still received much less than the standard 5-year penalty. When 'whistleblowers' have gained significant advantages from their fraud, such as Maher's 1999 World Championship invitation, they will still receive some small penalty, but much less than others who are involved in the fraud but did not come forward with information before being contacted by the DCI.

"I strongly encourage people who have tournament fraud in their past to come forward and provide information," Zantides added, "It's much better to confess and receive a light penalty, or no penalty, than to be discovered and receive a five-year penalty."

If it can happen to them, it can happen to you.

Aaron Forsythe was a professional Magic player and Internet columnist prior to leaving Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania to join Wizards of the Coast. His first duty here was Content Manager of this very website, a job that required him to do actual work as opposed to playing games all the time. So when a position opened in R&D, he jumped at the chance. He is now director of Magic R&D, and still plays Magic in his free time when he's not busy playing Magic.

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