Photo enthusiasts used their detective skills to prove that an award-winning photographer had digitally doctored an image purportedly showing antelope roaming just metres from a fast-moving train.

Chinese photographer Liu Weiqiang confessed after an internet user spotted a ?red line?, which on closer inspection, turned out to be a join between two separate images that had been stitched together.

Other internet users then studied the picture in more detail and discovered that the Exif data file information had apparently been ?faked? ? showing the time taken in the two separate images had been altered to show identical times.

?I?ve carefully read through all the internet postings about the questioned picture, which I?m ready to say was modified with Photoshop software,? admitted the 41-year-old photographer, who works for the Daqing Evening News.

It is also said that a roaring train would have caused the antelopes to ?scatter in fear?, according to an article in the Chengdu Evening News.

Instead the image, captured on 23 June 2006, shows the animals apparently maintaining a straight line as the train passes over the nearby bridge ? further heightening suspicion over the veracity of the picture.

The photo at the centre of the storm was voted one of the ten most impressive news photos of 2006 at an event sponsored by Chinese Central Television.

The photographer claims that he had ?never published the picture as a news photograph? and claims Chinese Central Television should bear responsibility for the mistake in awarding it honours for photojournalism.

?I admit it?s unfaithful, as well as immoral for a photographer to present a fabricated picture. I?m truly sorry,? wrote Weiqiang in an internet blog.

Weiqiang, an ardent supporter of antelope protection, added: ?I am to blame for the fabrication and I will face all the consequences. But I?m relieved to see a fake picture has aroused so many people?s attention of, and love for, Tibetan antelopes.?

The picture had been published in more than 200 places worldwide before the digital trickery was discovered.

Picture: Online reports in China suggest that the photographer used Photoshop to doctor the image