This morning, World Press Photo has announced that "after careful consultation with the jury, [it has] determined that is was necessary to disqualify Stepan Rudik, winner of the 3rd prize story in Sports Features, due to violation of the rules of the World Press Photo Contest." Rudik won the prize for his story "Street fighting, Kiev, Ukraine".
The organisation adds: "Following the announcement of the contest results, it came to the attention of World Press Photo that Rudik's story had violated a contest rule. After requesting RAW-files of the series from him, it became clear that an element had been removed from one of the original photographs."
Speaking to BJP, a spokeswoman for World Press Photo says that the photographer had removed the foot of one its subjects from a photo.
Last year, World Press Photo announced it had added a new rule that states that "the content of an image must not be altered". It added that "only retouching which conforms to currently accepted standards in the industry is allowed".
The jury, if suspicious of an image's authenticity, could request 'the original, unretouched file as recorded by the camera or an untoned scan of the negative or slide'. In Rudik's case, it did just that.
World Press Photo says: "In the opinion of the jury, the photographer ventured beyond the boundary of what is acceptable practice. Consequently, this judgment left World Press Photo no choice but to disqualify Rudik."
According to Michiel Munneke, managing director of World Press Photo, the jury "found it imperative to disqualify the photographer from the contest. The principle of World Press Photo is to promote high standards in photojournalism. Therefore, we must maintain the integrity of our organization even when the outcome is regrettable."
The disqualification means that the award will be revoked and that the story will be removed from the World Press Photo website and will not be included in the annual catalog and exhibition.
Last month, Munneke told BJP that the jury for portraiture was "in certain ways more flexible in applying these rules." He added that "for hard news, we have to apply the rules very strongly, but for portrait, we can be more flexible."
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