It’s taken the best part of 6 months, but the statutory body that controls greyhound racing in New South Wales has finally formally acknowledged the worst kept secret in the industry – GRNSW has a massive positive swab issue.
Even the Newcastle Herald managed to put the point in print before GRNSW even hinted there was a growing dilemma. This is even more condemning when you consider that GRNSW are habitual “tweeters”, have a borderline addiction to sharing on Facebook; and employ a growing list of journalists/media and marketing types. The channels of communication for them are many and varied.
The silence from those bestowed with the integrity and governance of the industry surrounding the issue has been deafening. Jason Mackay had to publicly “give up” his colleagues to emphasise the fact that he isn’t the only leading trainer waiting on their regulatory body to drag itself up by the bootstraps and deal with the issue.
Even Mackay wasn’t sure of the numbers involved citing “maybe 30 or 40 trainers” waiting for authorities to get their integrity “house in order”. But those numbers, as devastating as they are; could be even larger given there is currently a national epidemic of positive swabs – (an issue we will deal with in another analysis).
A few months ago, when Australian Racing Greyhound ran the numbers across Greyhound Racing in New South Wales, there were over 42 outstanding swabs that had not been reported as clear in New South Wales alone- some of them went right back to late 2012. Some may have been administration or “clerical” errors, but it was safe to say that there was more going on than “the new girl” not knowing how to do her job.
In GRNSW’s defence, the only reason we were able to run that analysis was that GRNSW do report when swab results “clear”. Somewhat obliquely though, they fail to report a swab anomaly. It is left to the user to “assume” an unreported clear swab has an irregularity. Surely commonsense and good governance dictates that it would cause less innuendo and “betting ring gossip” to be upfront and report the issue? But this is the modern reality of greyhounds racing’s version of “transparency”.
As dark as this would appear to be for those in New South Wales, GRNSW are light years ahead of Greyhound Racing Victoria (GRV).
It should come as no surprise that the regulatory body that runs greyhound racing in Victoria don’t even report the swabs they take in a format anyone could digest. The same group who were the subject of an Racing Integrity Ombudsman inquiry in to their lack of governance and gambling employees, will only make mention of a swab being taken in a stewards report of a race meeting. Nothing is ever mentioned of the swab again. Its value as information for the public just evaporates in to the ether.
Unless the swab is positive, and then the job of joining the dots falls at the feet of the Racing Appeals and Disciplinary Board (RADB). The RADB will report a positive swab inquiry outcome, although often months after the initial incident. Apparently nothing noteworthy occurs in the intervening period between a swab being taken, and inquiry report being finalised.
It wasn’t that long ago that GRV did not even report its integrity issues online. Believe it or not, GRV sought to hide integrity issues from wider public scrutiny until 2010. It’s only the last few years that these results can be found online. GRNSW through its predecessor, GHRRA; had been publishing these results online since the early 2000’s. A fact that is hard to reconcile when the GRV once trumpeted itself as the leading greyhound body in Australia with regard to Information Technology (IT).
Disappointingly, Racing Queensland and Racing Tasmania both follow the Victorian trend of only reporting swab issues after the outcome of the inquiry.
Greyhound Racing South Australia (GRSA) and Racing And Wagering West Australia (RWWA) who are often maligned in industry circles, actually lead the industry in integrity and transparency with regard to stewards inquiries and positive swabs. They both publish and release notifications when swab irregularities arise, and then keep the interested public informed as the process evolves.
If you’re waiting for the same from GRNSW – they sometimes report a swab anomaly, sometimes they don’t. The mere fact some are reported and others not only serves to further industry speculation and fuels a perception of “rules for some”. When GRNSW do choose to report swab irregularities, it is usually only days before the inquiry is set to take place; a date which is often months after the fact.
And what of Victoria? Well you might as well be living in a world before the pre-industrial age. It’s as if an information vacuum the equivalent of Steven King’s dome has descended over the greyhound racing headquarters. There will be no information forthcoming at all until after the RADB hearing is held; and then it can take weeks to months for that information to be relayed to the public. Presumably the pigeon struggles under the weight of the message it is delivering.
Given the constant spiel from the million dollar marketing machines of our regulatory bodies, morphing modest achievements and occasional complete fails into stunningly digestible and palatable media “bites”, there will always be a need for commentary and analysis uninfluenced by the spell of our statutory bodies.
From time to time Australian Racing Greyhound and its writers have themselves been maligned for not providing a “sugar & candy” analysis and coverage of Australian Greyhound Racing. The bare facts, the potential pitfalls, and the reality of some unsavoury incidents and issues has the capacity to become too much to bear for some.
While our regulatory bodies seek to hide from the transparency the industry deserves; and while they continue to put marketing concerns ahead of integrity issues; there will always be a need for an independent coverage of greyhound racing.
“Blind belief in authority is the greatest enemy of truth” – Albert Einstein.