Alfred Vella Disqualified For Heptaminol Positive

Greyhound Racing NSW (GRNSW) Stewards have finalised deliberations on possible sanctions following an analyst’s reports of the finding of Heptaminol in the sample taken from Nickel Queen after that greyhound won the seventh race, the Dubbo Racing Boxing Day 4/5th Grade Stakes (400m), at the Dubbo meeting on 19 December 2013.

Consistent with the protocols established for dealing with such reports under the GRNSW Prohibited Substance Penalty System, trainer Mr Alfred Vella was advised of the reports received from the Australian Racing Forensic Laboratory and Racing Analytical Services Ltd. Victoria, via written notification of the laboratory findings.

Mr Vella had advised GRNSW of the probability of the reports having occurred due to the administration of kynoselen, containing heptaminol, marginally within the recommended withholding period. This admission was consistent with the laboratory reports.

Following alternate correspondence, Mr Vella pleaded guilty to a charge under GAR 83 (2) (a) of having presented Nickel Queen for the event other than free of any prohibited substance, as the urine sample taken from the greyhound after the event was found to contain heptaminol.

After GRNSW had considered submissions from Mr Vella on penalty, he was disqualified for a period to expire at midnight on 17 October 2014. This disqualification has been backdated to 14 June 2014 in recognition of Mr Vella’s voluntary withdrawal from the industry following an initial visit from Stewards in February.

In considering penalty, stewards took into account such factors as this offence being the second such offence in just over two years, with the previous breach also resulting in a period of disqualification, a lack of evidence of any significant support for the greyhound on the day, the nature of the substance involved, the level of the substance reported and previous penalties imposed as a result of such findings, his guilty plea and cooperation with GRNSW in determining the probable source of the reports.

Also considered was Mr Vella’s reasonably high proportion of cleared swabs in a relatively short period of training and also his work in a voluntary capacity at Mudgee.

Notwithstanding those factors, the requirement for a penalty to be imposed in circumstances where a measure of negligence had been identified as a possible factor in the reports had also to be considered.

Under GAR 83 (4), Nickel Queen was disqualified from the event in question and the placings amended to:

1st – Boomtime
2nd – Total Sensation
3rd – Wooden Heart

Mr Vella was advised of his right of appeal.