Azzopardi Receives $500 Fine For Methylmorphinan Positive Swab In Victoria

Victorian greyhound trainer Judy Azzoaprdi has received a $500 fine for presenting her greyhound Go Slow to race at on Australia day while under the influence of the prohibited substance 17-methylmorphinan-3-ol, known as Racemorphan; a synthetic analogue of morphine.

The same opoid medication, which has two different isomers; one with strong analgesic properties similar to that of morphine, the other a stimulant; was present in two recent positive swabs in Queensland greyhound racing.

The positive swabs to the drug found in two different greyhounds resulted in suspended sentences for Queensland greyhound trainers and Mick Emery.

The two positives in the same state within a short period prompted Racing Queensland to advise Queensland greyhound trainers that a commercially available dog wormer which contains the ingredient Levamisole may metabolise into a substance known as Aminorex, a methylmorphinan with amphetamine-like stimulant properties.

Racing Queensland also advised that some cough treatments which contain the substance dextromethorphan hydrobromide, may metabolise into Levorphanol and or Dextrorphan. Both these substances are collectively known as 17-methylmorphinan-3-ol which is considered a prohibited substance. Hence any trainer who presents a greyhound to race which has been medicated with this substance risks disciplinary action if the greyhound returns a positive test result.

In June 2010, NSW greyhound racing stewards fined greyhound trainer Eddie Sanchez for presenting his greyhound Lady Elora to race with the drug 17-methylmorphinan-3-ol in her system. Stewards found that the drug positive was most likely from an administration to the greyhound by Sanchez of the cough syrup Bisolvon Dry Oral Liquid some time prior to the race.

In this latest positive swab Victorian greyhound racing stewards heard evidence from registered greyhound trainers Judy Azzopardi and Alan Azzopardi, and received written statements from Dr. John Vine (Racing Analytical Services Laboratory) and Dr. Alistair Smith ( Veterinary Clinic).

After considering the evidence, GRV Stewards charged Azzopardi with breach of Rule 83(2)(3) in that she did fail to present the greyhound Go Slow free of any substance for an event at The Meadows (MGRA) meeting on 26th January 2011, given the post race urine sample taken from the greyhound indicated the presence of the prohibited substance 17-methylmorphinan-3-ol.

Under Rule 47.1 of the Greyhound Racing Local Rules this constituted a Serious Offence. As a result, on Wednesday 11th May 2011, this matter was heard before the Racing Appeals & Disciplinary Board in the first instance under Greyhound Local Rule 47.3 and Sections 83C(b) and 83M of the Racing Act.

At that inquiry Tony Vass initially represented Mrs. Azzopardi at the hearing, with Mr. Alan Azzopardi also in attendance. But after Vass wished to discuss concerns regarding the validity of the of urine analysis and whether Drs. Vine, Smith or Bell were to give evidence at the hearing, a short adjournment was called; and upon resumption Vass advised that his instructions to represent Azzopardi had been withdrawn.

This hearing continued with Azzopardi representing herself and pleading guilty to the charge.

After hearing all the evidence tendered, the RADB found Azzopardi guilty as charged and imposed a fine of $500.

Acting under GAR83(5), the RADB also disqualified Go Slow from 3rd position in race 10 at The Meadows (MGRA) meeting on 26th January 2011 and amended the placings accordingly.

It remains unclear as to whether any of the recent positive swabs to 17-methylmorphinan-3-ol had sufficient quantities of the drug present in the greyhound’s systems to have any significant pharmacological effect on the greyhound or effect performance either positively or negatively.

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