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Steer's Name Is Cleared, but It's Still Steak

February 15, 2004|From Associated Press

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — Mongo the steer may now be Mongo the steak, but it isn't too late to give the dethroned state fair champion its title back, a judge has ruled.

Officials ruled at last year's Illinois State Fair that Mongo's owners had given it banned medicine to treat a sore hoof. They stripped it of its ribbon and gave the title -- and the thousands of dollars it generates -- to the runner-up.

Mongo's owner, 14-year-old Whitney Gray, sued officials, accusing the state Agriculture Department of failing to follow its own procedures for publishing the rules for fair exhibitors.

In his decision, Sangamon County Circuit Judge Patrick Kelley agreed that the state failed to follow those procedures and ruled that the disqualification should be reversed.

The judge awarded Gray lawyers' fees and costs, which were yet to be determined.

H.W. Devlin, a Department of Agriculture spokesman, said an appeal was planned.

Another lawsuit, still pending, by Gray's family seeks damages of $21,500, the amount that the runner-up brought at the state fair's Sale of Champions.

Mongo was disqualified after a urine sample confirmed the presence of Banamine, an anti-inflammatory drug. It was the first time in the fair's history that a junior champion steer was disqualified after testing positive for a banned drug.

The steer has since been slaughtered.

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