Leading former trainer Graeme Bate has been left nonplussed by the decision to remove him from the Greyhound Racing Victoria (GRV) Hall of Fame.
But Bate had a parting shot for GRV, saying it had wasted its money with its decision to appeal against the leniency of the two-year disqualification he was given by the Racing Appeals and Disciplinary Board in June for five serious rule breaches.
It was the first time GRV had appealed a decision of the independent RADB for being too lenient and at the appeal in October, VCAT increased the penalty by one year, to a total of three years.
Bate said on Thursday he had no intention of returning to training even after a two-year disqualification and even if he did, he would have had to re-apply to GRV for his trainer’s licence.
“The cost of that court case to get me an extra 12 months was $100,000,” he said.
“And I had already told them I wasn’t going to go back training dogs anyway.
“How they can justify using $100,000 of greyhound racing money to do something that was already done … they didn’t have to give me back my licence. I told them, I said i’m not interested in [coming back], I’m nearly 70 year old. I’m not going back.”
After the VCAT decision to extend the ban, GRV chairman Peter Caillard said on its website:
“The original decision to disqualify Mr Bate for just two years was too lenient and we believe the decision of VCAT to increase Mr Bate’s penalty vindicates the stewards’ decision to appeal.
“We have increased our swab numbers by 25 per cent in the past year, taking close to 4300 individual swabs. We now test out-of-competition, pre-race and post-race in addition to freezing and storing samples for retrospective testing.”
As for his removal from the Hall of Fame, Bate said:
“They sent me an email yesterday. I haven’t really got any thoughts about it. I’m just sort of all over it.”
Bate pleaded guilty to five serious offences under the Greyhounds Australasia Rules (GAR) before the RADB on June 10 this year.
The charges included: administering a prohibited substance to a greyhound under his care; administering a prohibited substance to greyhounds trained by another person; procuring tablets for the purpose of administering to greyhounds; and making a false and misleading statement.
Caillard said in a statement on Thursday:
“This board has repeatedly stressed that it will not tolerate anyone using prohibited substances to gain an unfair advantage. More than ever before, the board of GRV has committed resources to detect and prevent their use. This includes the introduction of out-of-competition testing and the freezing of samples, with testing of those samples to commence shortly.”
Bate has found some positives in his enforced absence from the industry.
“It’s the first time I’ve actually ever got to go and buy my own clothes and things … I have worked my butt off for this industry and in this industry all my life,” he said.
“It’s changed my life actually and it’s for the better.
“Because greyhound racing does completely entail you … you can’t go on holidays, you can’t do anything.”