This morning I was notified by the Society of American Travel Writers (SATW) that I have been stripped of all travel journalism awards given by the organization and its foundation for the use of performance enhancing drugs. In particular I have been stripped of the following awards:
- 2012, 2013 and 2014 Lowell Thomas Awards for Photo Illustration of Travel
- 2014 Travel Photographer of the Year Gold Medal
- 2014 Travel Photographer of the Year Silver Medal
Moreover, I have been notified that my membership has been suspended pending a review by the special committee looking into the use of performance enhancing drugs by writers and photographers.
I take these accusations very seriously as this is a major attack on my reputation. This action was taken without any hearing, or ability for me to plead my case. Given that I was not given the chance to defend myself, I’ll will use the only platform I have available to me to answer these charges.
Every year after the SATW awards ceremony, winners are required to submit a urine sample for testing of various regulated compounds. For the last 3 years I’ve dutifully submitted my sample at a certified facilities wherever I happened to be in the world. The processing of the samples are done out of pocket and every year I have passed with flying colors. I’ve often had to go far out of my way to visit certified testing facilities in various countries. I remember having gone far out of my way in both Thailand and in the United Kingdom.
My most recent test came back in February testing positive for several banned substances. In particular Foolazine, a drug manufactured by the Pfizer Corporation which provides stability, strength and speed to your right index finger, and Anselize, a drug used by former East German photographers which supposedly improves image composition. (although this has never been proven!)
I want to categorically state for the record I have not, am not, or ever will use any performance enhancing drugs to improve my photography.
The results from my most recent test had to have been a false positive, as I have never taken any such drugs. Moreover, the fact that SATW took such drastic action, which besmirched my good name, without any advanced notification is reckless and without precedent. The fallout from their announcement was immediate. I have already lost my staff position with Newsweek Magazine and my spot in BlogHouse Detroit.
It isn’t often discussed publicly, but photographers are aware of the illicit market in photography enhancing drugs. Like many other travel photographers, I’ve been approached by underground photodrug dealers all over the world. However, I have never given in to the temptation. I have always believed in an all natural approach to my photography and have never taken anything more than herbal-photo supplements.
Also, why does SATW crack down on performance enhancing drugs, but turns a blind eye to extensor truncation surgery, aka “Bob Holmes Surgery” which provides almost all the same benefits to the index finger???
Moreover, I’m saddened that SATW has chosen to target photographers as the focus of their witch hunt, when everyone knows that travel writers are more apt to use performance enhancing drugs to overcome writers block.
I have spoken to my attorney Roy Dewitt, and we will be filing an injunction against SATW to reverse these actions and seek a formal investigation.
I know there are a lot of bloggers, writers and photographers who will use this as an opportunity to attack me and try to bring me down. Do not believe what they are saying.
I have full faith that I will see this wrong righted, and that my name will be cleared. Thank you all for your support during this troubled time.