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Friday, 27 April, 2001, 13:08 GMT 14:08 UK
Miss or monsieur prank revealed
Elodie Gossuin
Elodie Gossuin: laughed off the reports at first
The editor of a French Internet site which ran a story saying the current Miss France was really a man has said the article was just a joke, and he was surprised at the media fuss.

Frederic Royer, editor of L'Examineur, said his website was purely satirical. "Everything is a joke on our page," he said.

As soon as something is placed on an internet site, people take it at face value, without asking themselves any questions.

Frederic Royer, editor of L'Examineur

On 8 January, L'Examineur ran an article claiming that the current Miss France, 20-year-old Elodie Gossuin, was in fact a 27-year-old man.

The rumours spread like wildfire on the internet, eventually appearing in newspapers from Puerto Rico to the UK.

According to the reports, Miss Universe competition organisers were checking on her sex at birth.

Uncertain beginnings

Mr Royer said he was unsure whether his story was behind the international media storm currently swirling around Ms Gossuin, although some newspaper reports cited a French Internet site as the source.

"If it comes from us, it's worrying and it's serious," he said. "That would mean that people do not understand humour."

On Wednesday, Ms Gossuin denied the gender rumours in San Juan, Puerto Rico, where the Miss Universe pageant is to take place on 11 May.

Ms Gossuin, a 20-year-old nursing student from Picardie, said she laughed at the reports at first, but then started worrying that they might damage her chances of winning the competition.

Angry attack

The media attention sparked a furious attack on the internet by Genevieve de Fontenay, the head of the Miss France committee, who described the medium as an uncontrolled and terrifying source of misinformation.

"This is imbecilic rumour, which undermines the dignity of Elodie Gossuin, was started by a deranged individual," she said.

Mr Royer said that the furore sparked by the story on his site showed people's gullibility.

"As soon as something is placed on an internet site, people take it at face value, without asking themselves any questions," he said.

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17 Nov 00 | Asia-Pacific
Thai beauty queen is a man
18 Apr 01 | Middle East
Army chic for Israeli beauty queen
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