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Wednesday 14 April 2010

Allegations surround Kiwi's loss to Aussie

Posted in: New Zealand Daily News, Events
By Daily News staff - 26th March 2010

Amidst threats and counter-threats of legal action, allegations that judging results in the Mr Australasia Bear contest were manipulated to deny the New Zealand contestant first place are being played down by the contest organisers and backers of the New Zealand contestant.

Mr. Australasia Bear: Mike Binis, Julian Ferro & Jason Lee (winner)
Mike Binis, Mr Urge Bear, attended last year's annual Hibearnation festival in Melbourne where he won the Mr Grizzly Bear section title which enabled him to compete in the overall Mr Australasia Bear contest. Sydney man Jason Lee was announced as the Mr Australasia Bear winner but an ex-committee member of VicBears, which runs the contest, alleges that the judge's voting, placing Binis in first place, was ignored in favour of giving the title to the popular Australian contestant.

After investigating the allegations VicBears says the place-getters as announced on the night will stand. "The winners... were decided by an independent panel of judges from the wider Australasian Bear Community that included the SH2008 Mr Australasian Bear winner, Mr Heath Jones from New Zealand," says new VicBears president, Rick Cooper. "The judging panel made an independent decision which stands."

Paul Heard of Auckland's Urge Bar says neither Urge nor Binis were aware of any discrepancies on the night of last year's contest and the allegations were a disturbing surprise. "As far as we know the judging process was normal and fair," he says. "We don't believe Mike was disadvantaged and Mike himself is quite happy with the outcome." Heard says this year's Mr Urge NZ Bear, Eric French, is a good contestant and he and his sponsors will be attending "with our eyes wide open."

VicBears' Cooper says the judging process is to be simplified and made more transparent in future. While the ex-committee member has called for an official investigation VicBears is considering legal action against him "for possible breaches of both Australian Intellectual Property Copyright laws and/or the Federal and State Privacy laws."

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