Greyhound Racing NSW (GRNSW) stewards on Thursday 16 October 2014 inquired into the analysts’ reports of the finding of caffeine and its metabolites, theophylline, paraxanthine, and theobromine, in urine samples taken from greyhounds trained by Tony Desira.
The greyhounds involved and the events in question are as follows:
Kate’s Reaction – won at Richmond 31 May 2014 (Race 4 Penrithelectrical.com.au Maiden 535m)
Cosmic’s Son – won at Gosford 17 June 2014 (Race 4 Rob Sharp Electrical Maiden 515m)
Kate’s Reaction – won at Gosford 24 June 2014 (Race 4 Centrebet 132946 Stakes 5th Grade 515m)
Kate’s Reaction – won at Gosford 1 July 2014 (Race 5 Gosford to City Heat 1 5th Grade 515m)
Evidence was taken from Mr Desira, and Dr Adam Cawley from the Australian Racing Analytical Laboratory (ARFL). Written evidence was tendered by Racing NSW Head Veterinarian Dr Craig Suann.
A kennel inspection was undertaken at Mr Desira’s premises on 4 August 2014 after confirmatory analysis from the Racing Science Centre Queensland of the first positive sample was declared on 31 July 2014.
During this inspection Mr Desira produced a powdered substance which he advised was supplied by his son Michael, who is involved in the training of athletes in mixed martial arts. Mr Desira stated that the powder was sprinkled over feeds after his greyhounds had either raced or trialled to assist with muscle repatriation. As both Kate’s Reaction and Cosmic’s Son had chronic injuries, the powder had been administered to both greyhounds prior to them returning the positive samples. Stewards obtained a sample of the powder for testing.
Stewards then visited Michael Desira’s premises and obtained samples of five powders that were said to be combined with the mixture fed to Kate’s Reaction and Cosmic’s Son. One of these products – Oxyshred – was labelled as containing green coffee beans.
On analysis by the ARFL, both Oxyshred and the sample of the powder taken from Tony Desira’s premises were found to contain caffeine and its metabolites.
Mr Desira subsequently pleaded guilty to four charges under GAR 83 (2) (a), in that he presented Kate’s Reaction and Cosmic’s Son for the races in question other than free of any prohibited substance.
Mr Desira was subsequently disqualified for four periods of six months, all to be served concurrently. This decision had regard to the fact that the result of the screening analysis of the sample taken from Kate’s Reaction on 31 May 2014 had not been received prior to the receipt of the screening analysis report relative to the event on 1 July 2014. This meant that Mr Desira could not have been alerted to the alleged breaches prior to the event.
In determining penalty, stewards took into consideration Mr Desira’s guilty plea, his cooperation with stewards during the kennel inspection, the low level of the prohibited substances, previous penalties for breaches of the same prohibited substances, his culpability in using imported non-veterinary products, the poor reflection on the industry in the report of four breaches of the prohibited substance rules, and general deterrence to participants.
Under GAR 83 (4), Kate’s Reaction and Cosmic’s Son were disqualified from their winning performances. Kate’s Reaction was also disqualified from her third placing in the Gosford to City Final held at Wentworth Park 11 July 2014.
Mr Desira was advised of his right of appeal.