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Elliot Saltman has been banned from golf for three months for repeatedly replacing his ball incorrectly. The professional who was accused of “cheating” in a minor European Tour event in Russia last year, has been banned for three months.

Saltman has been given 28 days to appeal against the decision. His representatives are believed to have spent most of today meeting with lawyers and further meetings are planned for tomorrow with a view to challenging the decision.

In an interview with journalists in Spain last month Saltman indicated that in the immediate aftermath of the events in Russia he had agreed he had broken the rules. He then retracted this.

“I accepted what was said at the time because I was in shock at the time and I didn’t want to be labelled a cheat. I am sorry now that I didn’t stand up for myself,” he said.

Cheating is and always has been the most serious offence a golfer can be accused of committing. Any suggestion of its existence at the highest level also undermines golf’s unique selling point of being the most honourable of sports.

For Saltman the consequences of being banned are huge, as he acknowledged before the hearing. “It affects not only me but my family,” he said. “I don’t want to be labelled as a cheat. Nobody wants that reputation.