It took Ronnie Lynn Robinson two years to own up to his fish tale.
Robinson has admitted to common-law cheating, a rare crime, for turning in what looked to be a thawed-out fish with a belly full of lead weights at a 2002 Lake County bass fishing tournament.
Robinson was charged and stripped of his nearly $2,000 prize at the Harris Chain Bassmasters Big Bass Tournament after tournament director Darren Ratliff gutted the winning fish in his kitchen and found three 8-ounce weights in its stomach.
Robinson, 51, finally admitted guilt in exchange for nine months of court supervision, during which he must stay clear of fishing contests.
Robinson's lawyer, Henry G. Ferro of Ocala, said Robinson is innocent but agreed to the deal "strictly as a matter of convenience."
According to a deputy's report, Robinson caught the winning 8-pound, 6-ounce fish at 7:30 a.m. on Sept. 28, 2002, threw it into the live well of his boat and submitted it more than six hours later.
Tournament officials didn't question the entry at the scene, but Ratliff said it looked pale and flaccid, and unlike most freshly dead catches, stiff from rigor mortis. The fish also looked too fat for its length, and the artificial worm in its mouth didn't have the punctures usually found on used bait, he said.
Robinson's $1,915.20 prize was nearly enough to cover his $2,000 bail.
UT runner honored
Tampa junior Allison Macsas was named Sunshine State Conference women's cross country runner of the week following a fifth-place finish overall in Saturday's Gator Invitational 5K. She led all non-Division I runners as the Spartans placed fourth among 22 teams, the highest for non-Division I schools.
GOLF: The USF men's and women's teams placed fourth in their respective season-opening tournaments. The men finished 18 strokes behind winner Mississippi in the 15-team Raising Cane Classic at Hattiesburg, Miss. The women finished 12 shots behind winner James Madison in the Napa River Grill Cardinal Cup at Louisville.
Storm players to reach out
Tampa Bay Storm quarterback Shane Stafford and fullback/linebacker David White will visit Newsome High School Thursday as part of the Arena Football League-U.S. Army Boot Camp outreach program. Arena players and coaches and U.S. Army battalion officials speak with students during physical education classes about the importance of teamwork, fitness and exercise education. Flag football scrimmages, autograph signings and raffles for memorabilia also are part of the program.
Short tourney for Dokic
Eighth-seeded Jelena Dokic lost in the first round of the China Open to Tamarine Tanasugarn 6-3, 6-0 in Beijing, and Wimbledon singles champion Maria Sharapova and Vera Zvonareva were eliminated in their opening doubles match by Shinobu Asagoe and Rika Fujiwara 1-6, 6-3, 6-4. Sharapova and Serena Williams have first-round byes in singles.
STEVENSON SURGERY: Former Wimbledon semifinalist Alexandra Stevenson had surgery for a right shoulder injury that has bothered her since January 2003. She is a former top 20 player now ranked 143rd.
U.S. world team set
Olympic gold medalists Michael Phelps, Aaron Peirsol, Natalie Coughlin and Amanda Beard head U.S. rosters for next month's short-course world championships. The Oct. 7-11 meet will be in two 25-meter temporary pools being built inside Conseco Fieldhouse, home of the NBA's Indiana Pacers. Other Olympic medalists entered for the United States include Ian Crocker, Brendan Hansen, Ryan Lochte, Neil Walker, Jason Keller, Kaitlin Sandeno, Lindsay Benko, Rachel Komisarz, Amanda Weir, Jenny Thompson and Kara Lynn Joyce.
Beckham makes a point
David Beckham scored on a free kick to put Real Madrid atop the Spanish league standings with a 1-0 victory over Osasuna in coach Mariano Garcia Remon's debut. Beckham had been benched by Jose Antonio Camacho, who resigned over the weekend after coaching Real for just six games.
REF REPERCUSSIONS: Dynamo Kiev was given a 3-0 forfeit victory over AS Roma by European soccer's governing body, which also ordered the Italian team to play two homes games in an empty stadium because Swedish referee Anders Frisk was felled by an object thrown from the stands during a Champions League game in Rome last week. Frisk had just ejected a Roma defender for pushing down a Dynamo striker.
OBITUARIES: Pete Cutino, who coached California to eight water polo national championships, died Sunday of apparent heart failure at his home in Berkeley. He was 71. Cutino had a 519-172-10 record in 26 years as Cal's coach. The Peter J. Cutino Award is given annually to the nation's top male and female collegiate players. Larry Phillips, a stock car racer whose 2,500 career wins included five Winston Racing Series championships, died Tuesday at St. John's Regional Health Center in Springfield, Mo., after a four-year battle with lung cancer. He was 62.
CYCLING: Jose Cayetano Juliawon the 118-mile 16th stage of the Spanish Vuelta from Olivenza to Caceres in temperatures that reached 102 degrees. Defending champion Roberto Heras remained the overall leader.
CRICKET: England beat world champion Australia by six wickets to qualify for the Champions Trophy final Saturday in London, its first final of a major tournament in 12 years. It will meet either West Indies or Pakistan.
_ Compiled from Times wires.