Greyhound Trainer Tony Vass Guilty Of Morphine Positive

Information has just come to light from the GRV Stewards desk that a Nyora greyhound trainer has been found guilty of a positive swab to Morphine resulting in a 12 month disqualification.

Greyhound trainer Tony Vass has been found guilty of presenting the greyhound Front Line Hero to race when a post race swab indicated the presence of the drug Morphine.

Stewards on 21st October 2008 and 25th November 2008 conducted an Inquiry into the circumstances pertaining to a post-race urine sample taken from the greyhound Front Line Hero at the Traralgon GRC meeting held on 27th June 2008 indicating the presence of the drug Morphine.

Stewards heard evidence from Dr. J. Vine (RASL), Mr. N. Brown and GRV Stewards – R. Paul, B. Polson and A. Mills.

After hearing the evidence Stewards charged Mr. Vass with breach of GAR83(2)(3). A charge to which Mr. Vass pleaded not guilty.

Stewards found Mr Vass guilty as charged and disqualified his licence for 12 months effective midnight 25 November, 2008.

Stewards also disqualified Front Line Hero from its 1st place in Event 6 at Traralgon on 27th June 2008, a race in which Front Line Hero was an easy 5.5 length winner, leading almost all the way in the best time of the day to win the 5th grade final.

While no hard evidence exists regarding the use of Morhpine as a performance enhancer in greyhounds, sources close to Australian Racing Greyhound.com suggest that rumours have abounded since the mid 90’s that Morphine or drugs that contain Morphine, such as Sublimaze; were being used by unscrupulous trainers to fix races by artificailly enhancing a greyhounds ability.

The reason very few positive swabs to Morphine have been found in greyhounds, according to sources; is that the use of Morphine or Sublimaze can really only be detected on pre race swabs as pots race swabs are frequently normal. Although pre race swabbing does occur infrequently, its occurrence is no where near wide spread enough to detect the few instances of abuse that occur.

High profile greyhound trainer and dual Melbourne Cup contender Graeme Bate is one few greyhound trainers that have been required to attend inquiries to positive swabs to Morphine in post race urinary swabs in greyhounds. On that occassion GRV Stewards deemed the swab to be the result of feeding bread containing poppy seeds in the racing greyhounds diet and Bate avoided a lengthy disqualification.

Tony Vass, however has a long history with the GRV and in particular its high profile CEO John Stephens.

Vass, who at one time was the publisher of the greyhound racing newsletter “Greyhound Hotline”, was ordered by a court in 2004 to pay a record $850,000 in damages to Stephens over an article that falsely accused him of lying. At the time the payout was believed to be Victoria’s highest individual defamation payout.

Mr Stephens sued publisher Anthony Vass for articles printed in Greyhound Hotline and on Mr Vass’s website. The court accepted Mr Vass had sent some or all of the articles to chief executives of greyhound racing clubs and had distributed them personally at race meetings, as well as publishing them on his website.

In a statement outside court at the time, Mr Stephens said his reputation had been vindicated. “The Supreme Court has recognised the seriousness of the allegations made against me by Tony Vass and has confirmed that there was no evidence that any of the defamatory material was in any way true,” he said.

One of the articles accused Mr Stephens of lying and another had complained about eligibility rule changes.

Mr Vass had continued to publish defamatory articles through his website until he was stopped by a Supreme Court order.