In the competitive Scrabble world's equivalent of a major doping scandal, an up-and-coming Division 3 Scrabbler was booted out of the 2012 National Scrabble Championship yesterday after being caught with illegal blank letter tiles in his possession.

The cheater, an unidentified minor, had made it to the 24th round of the 28-round tournament when he was caught red-handed with a pair of blank tiles. This is believed to be the first intercepted instance of cheating at a national tournament, though regional cheating incidents have taken place.

"It's unfortunate," National Scrabble Association executive director John D. Williams, Jr. told the Associated Press. "The Scrabble world is abuzz. The Internet is abuzz." Williams called the young player's division the equivalent of "any great living-room player out there."

Though the use of blank tiles as wild card letters is allowed in tournaments, the offending player had palmed two tiles from a previous match with the intent of using them in a future game.

"We're one step away from drug testing," Williams said, acknowledging that some Scrabblers don't always play fair. "But no steroids so far."

[photo unrelated via AP]