According to the commentary from the Australian Racing Greyhound Facebook page, the opinion regarding the decision handed down by Greyhound Racing New South Wales (GRNSW) in the Jason Mackay case is almost unanimous.
When you compare the penalties given to trainers in other cases around Australia, the penalties defy logic and you can understand the frustrations being expressed by industry participants. However, when you look closely at past cases in NSW, there is a clear history of “soft” penalties being handed down in comparison to the other states.
According to GRNSW’s Penalty Guidleines, the penalty “starting point” for a category three offence is 52 weeks per offence. You can then receive discounts for mitigating factors, such as low level readings on the swab, or for an early guilty plea, or add more time for prior offences.
This leads to another conversation for another day. What is a low level reading? What were the readings in these cases? It would make things a lot more transparent Australia wide, if the levels were actually detailed in the media statements. In general, stewards inquiry reports offer up very little in the way of specific facts, making it impossible to clearly understand the majority of decisions. There is no question that participants Australia wide are crying out for transparency, consistency and integrity; and for that, they are repeatedly offered up “a pineapple”.
The starting penalty for Mackay’s three positive swabs is three times 52 weeks for a Category 3 drug. All steroids are considered Category 3 drugs under the GRNSW Drug Classifications. There was a fourth charge but it was dropped when the “B” sample did not show an elevated Testosterone level. So Mackay was facing minimum starting point of 156 weeks worth of disqualification or suspension, but has miraculously escaped with just a $2,000 fine per offence!
GRNSW has the ability to give a discount on positive swab penalties for personal circumstances, which in effect makes the existence of their “GRNSW Penalty Table” a complete waste of time, as they can do whatever they want on a case by case basis. This is where Jason Mackay can count himself very lucky. According to the most recent decision, Jason qualifies for a discount on any potential penalty because he is well invested in the industry.
It’s quite ironic that the reason many would assume the penalty discounts would be in place would be to show compassion to those facing hardship. However in practice, the opposite is true. According to the Stewards, Jason received a discount on any potential penalty because of “his personal circumstances of full time training and a significant industry investment”. Bad luck for any hobby trainer with just one greyhound in work – you’ll have the book thrown at you!
The whole scenario does nothing but prove the assertions made by the much-maligned Vet Dr. Ted Humphries that, “Smaller trainers get harsher penalties”. For stating the bleeding obvious, Dr Humphries was called to inquiry and subsequently “warned off” by GRNSW Stewards.
With Humphries due to have an appeal heard shortly, and the ongoing NSW Government Greyhound Inquiry due to have its second public hearing in Newcastle on 5th February, this most recent decision and the anger it has fuelled in the wider greyhound community will no doubt have some influence over both those events.
Back to the Mackay decision, and an interesting point is that Mackay appears to have been given a lighter sentence due to a guilty plea. There is provisions in GRNSW’s own penalty guidelines for a discount to a sentence if the subject of the inquiry takes an early guilty plea. The effective word here is early. While Mackay did ultimately plead guilty, there can be no confusion that the plea was anything but early. The original swabs date back to February 2013, and there was at least one adjournment at Mackay’s request. This case, and many others like it, have been decided in anything but a timely fashion.
The Reaction – Public Opinion
Damien Bates – “His standing in the industry” !!!!! What the hell does that have to do with the penalty ? What a joke
Mick Whyte – Joke !!! 4 dogs is a blatant disregard of the rules, should of had the book thrown at him.
Rod Lee – We always knew that there would be leniency but look at it from a positive angle ! Now they have set precedent for all in the future .i also wish you Jason Mackay all the best in 2014 buy a lottery ticket mate you’re lucks in !
Craig Jones – It totally depends on the trainers in Grnsw eyes, if it was a lesser known trainer he would have copped a suspension….how do u plead guilty to knowingly doing the wrong thing and get off with a fine?? this is the standard they have set now so I hope more people are giving the leniency they have given in this case….no wonder the sport is going backwards in a hurry!!
Les Keefe – well said craig… horrible precedent they have set….
Paul Betar – Gra nsw are a joke and just proves they are corrupt
Greg Stenner – every trainer that gets caught now will plead not guilty and this case will be brought up they grnsw didn’t show that they are fair dinkim in what they do! Nothing against Jason good for him but really not a good decision.
Samantha Riley – Are you kidding? Well GRNSW that is it for me. I am selling my 2 dogs and going back to the horses. I was warned that the dog industry has gone downhill in NSW…now I have the facts. Dogs will be sold by tonight.
Darris Fahey – What a load of shit..!!!!!
David Hermon – total crap i might as well drug up my bitchs and plead that i didnt know the rules oh lets amend the placings gee thats great do i get a refund on my bets 12 months later …. nlo wonder why i dont bet on greyhounds unless i own/train them
Justin Bush – thats bullshit 4 positives and only a fine money speaks all in this sport……you want more people in this industry and how can you compete with the high class trainers that are knowingly doping there dogs to win this is just just not australian i honestly think it should be brought to the minister for sport and have him do something
After seeing these reactions we decided to have a look back at some of the other penalties handed down to trainers in previous Testosterone cases.
NSW Elevated Testosterone Penalties
- John Free (NSW) – Fined the sum of $2000.
- Ronald Hoogenboom (NSW) – Fined the sum of $1750.
- Tim Murray (NSW) – Licence suspended for a period of four months.
- Bruce Caden (NSW) – Fined the sum of $1750.
WA Elevated Testosterone Penalties
- Wayne Jacobsen (WA) – Licence suspended for a period of nine months.
Qld Elevated Testosterone Penalties
- James Madigan (QLD) – Fined the sum of $1500 and his licence was suspended for a period of three (3) months.
- Brian Lambert (QLD) – Licence was suspended for a period of six (6) months.
- Ricky Camp (QLD) – Disqualified for a period of six (6) months and was fined the sum of $1000.
- John Finn (QLD) – Fined the sum of $2000.
- Pamela Field (QLD) – Fined the sum of $2000.
- Robert Giltinan (QLD) – Fined the sum of $2000.
In the cases of Finn, Field and Giltinan, all had no priors in recent times and all had positive swabs in one greyhound, as opposed to three (four) in the Mackay case.
Vic Elevated Testosterone Penalties
- Justin Dunn (VIC) – Licence suspended for six months.
- Graeme Bate (VIC) – Licence suspended for 12 months.
- Peter Mullen (VIC) – Licence suspended for seven months.
- Douglas Blake (VIC) – Licence suspended for seven months.
- Murray Collyer (VIC) – Licence suspended for nine months.
- Steven Collyer (VIC) – Licence suspended for six months.
When you look at the stand being taken in Victoria, it is plainly obvious that the GRNSW has taken a far lighter stance against Testosterone cases.
As one industry participant stated to Australian Racing Greyhound, “GRNSW are the toothless tiger”.