Greyhound Racing NSW (GRNSW) stewards concluded an inquiry into analysts’ reports that the urine sample taken from Where’s Dobie and Pink Sock, had been found to contain abnormal levels of metabolites of the endogenous substance ethanol, ethanol glucuronide and ethyl sulphate.
These samples were taken at the race meetings conducted at Unibet Gardens on 25 February 2012 and 31 March 2012 after both greyhounds had performed poorly in their respective races.
Evidence was taken over three days of inquiry on 22 May, 18 September and 2 December 2013, from trainer Wayne Vanderburg.
Mr Vanderburg was assisted at the latter two hearings by Mark Higgins and Vince Murphy of counsel.
Evidence was taken on 22 May from Australian Racing Forensic Laboratory (ARFL) Science Manager Dr Adam Cawley and from University of NSW Emeritus Professor Brynn Hibbert. Further evidence was taken on the following days from ARFL Senior Veterinarian Dr Craig Suann, Dr Cawley and Professor Hibbert, with written evidence tendered from the ARFL, Racing Analytical Services Victoria, Racing Science Centre Queensland, and GRNSW.
Following collaborative research between the laboratories and GRNSW in 2010 and 2011 aimed at identifying substances detected in poorly performed greyhounds during some races conducted in those years, GRNSW officers determined to impound the greyhounds during April 2012 for the purpose of identifying normal resting levels of the metabolites in each greyhound, which were found to be significantly less than the levels detected in the race day samples.
In attempting to explain the laboratory findings, Mr Vanderburg gave evidence of having used a topically applied mixture of penetrene and methylated spirits on the skin of the greyhounds in work and of having used an atomised application of methylated spirits to the toes and quicks of some greyhounds in his kennel on a regular basis. Based on the evidence GRNSW rejected this scenario.
On 2 December 2013, Mr Vanderburg pleaded guilty to three charges under GAR 83(2)(a) in that he had presented the greyhounds to compete on the respective days, with the urine samples taken from the greyhounds found to have contained abnormal levels of the metabolites of ethanol.
After considering submissions on penalty from Mr Vanderburg and his counsel, he was disqualified for a period of seven years on each charge, to be served concurrently.
In considering penalty, stewards took into account Mr Vanderburg’s plea of guilty to the charges, the unique circumstance of this being the first finding of its type in any code throughout the country, the extremely high level of the metabolites from the race day samples when compared to the resting samples, the footage of the races and the impact such reports have on the welfare of the industry. The stewards were mindful of the need for protection of the industry interest due to extreme welfare concerns with the finding of these substances at the levels reported having a negative impact on the reputation of the industry and only capable of having a detrimental impact on performance.
Mr Vanderburg had two previous prior offences, one involving stimulant substances in 2000 and was not dealt with on a first offender basis.
He has indicated that he will appeal the decisions.
No direction was made under the provisions of GAR 83(4) in each case.