The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Beauty spills drug blot

Los Angeles, Feb. 1 (Reuters): Miss USA Tara Conner, who hung on to her title last month by agreeing to go into rehab, has admitted she used cocaine and says she has struggled with alcoholism since she was a teenager.

The beauty queen, who denied last month that she had problems with alcohol or drugs, spoke openly about both issues in her first interview since ending a 31-day stint in rehab.

“I have done cocaine, yeah,” Conner said, in an excerpt aired yesterday on NBC television’s Today show.

In further excerpts from the interview, Conner said she had “the disease of alcoholism and addiction” but insisted she was never drunk while taking part in any pageant.

Conner, now 21, got to keep her tiara in December after a tearful news conference at which real estate mogul Donald Trump, owner of the Miss USA beauty pageant, agreed to give her a second chance despite reports of teenage excess.

Media reports at the time said the Kentucky blonde, who at 20 was under the legal drinking age, had been partying hard at New York bars and nightclubs and was using drugs.

Conner said it was a relief to speak openly about her addictions. “It gets it off my chest.... At first I held back on it a little bit. But there is no sense in it,” she said of her cocaine use.

Conner said she had all sorts of insecurities from a young age. “Things started unraveling for me very early, at a very young age. Probably about around 14. I have the disease of alcoholism and addiction,” she said.

Today presenter Matt Lauer said that in their interview, Conner said she would not pose nude in Playboy magazine as some reports have suggested. The full interview will be aired on Saturday on Dateline NBC.

A spokesperson for the Miss USA organisation confirmed Conner would not strip for the magazine.

“There was a conversation between Mr Trump and Playboy, but this is not something that Tara wants to do at this point in time. She feels it is inappropriate,” the spokesperson said.

She declined to comment on Conner’s drug use, saying it was up to her what she wished to disclose.

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