Greyhound Racing NSW (GRNSW) will reform the way it conducts prohibited substance cases with the introduction of new penalty guidelines as well as the option for trainers to enter an early guilty plea for certain offences.
The new system, which was approved by the Board of GRNSW at its September meeting, is a first for greyhound racing in Australia and similar to judicial systems used by the National Rugby League as well as the Australian Football League.
Under the reforms, GRNSW Stewards dealing with a prohibited substance case will be guided by a new penalty table when determining what penalty should be made for certain infringements.
A key aspect of the penalty table is placing common prohibited substances into five distinct categories, based on their severity and on advice from GRNSW’s Greyhound Welfare and Veterinary Services Unit.
The new drug catgories can be seen here: Postive Swab Drug Classifications.
For prohibited substance cases in the lower categories (Category 4 or 5 substances, as well as some Category 3 substances at the discretion of Stewards) the trainer will be given the option of entering an early guilty plea.
If the trainer does enter an early guilty plea and accepts the penalty offered by GRNSW Stewards in accordance with the penalty table, they will receive a 25% reduction in penalty and the matter will not be heard at a Stewards inquiry.
If a trainer does not choose to take the early guilty plea, the matter will then proceed to a Stewards inquiry and the right to the 25% discount is forfeited.
All higher category positive swab cases, as well as trainers with a poor record for prohibited substances, will continue to be referred straight to a Stewards inquiry, with no option for an early guilty plea.
Category 1 offences will begin with a minimum penalty of 260 weeks and penalties may be increased for previous offences by as much as 520 weeks and as little as 65 weeks. Other aggravating factors my also increase the base penalty by another 260 weeks, twice the base.
In contrast, the base penalty for a Category 1 offence may be reduced to 190 weeks for an early guilty plea, if the opportunity is offered. Similarly, a low level detection of a Category 1 drug will reduce the base to 190 weeks.
A cumulative system of reductions are allowed for personal circumstance and mitigating factors ultimately offering further potential reductions in the base penalty of 325 weeks. In theory, but we hope not in practice; a Category 1 offence could result in a penalty equivalent to zero weeks of disqualification given enough, mitigating and personal circumstance reductions from the base penalty.
The base penalties are:
- Category 1 – 260 weeks
- Category 2 – 156 weeks
- Category 3 – 52 weeks
- Category 4 – 24 weeks
- Category 5 – 12 weeks
Aggravating factor penalty increases range from 520 weeks through to 3 weeks, while penalty reductions range from 260 weeks through to 0.75 weeks. Early guilty pleas, when available, and low level drug detections will always offer a 25% penalty reduction on the drug category base.
GRNSW Chief Executive Brent Hogan said the new system would modernise the way GRNSW conducts prohibited substance cases.
“The new system to deal with prohibited substance cases is part of GRNSW’s commitment to ensuring the integrity of greyhound racing and emanates from a review of our drug detection strategies that has included a doubling of our swabbing budget,” Mr Hogan said.
“The introduction of penalty guidelines and an early plea will increase transparency for greyhound racing participants while also improving the efficiency of the inquiry process for prohibited substances.”
Mr Hogan stressed that the penalty table was intended to act as a guide only and should not be viewed as mandatory penalties.
“GRNSW Stewards will still retain a degree of discretion to ensure that particular circumstances of each case are taken into account,” Mr Hogan said.
GRNSW will hold information sessions for participants on the new penalty guidelines at the following dates and venues: