Last week Pakenham based horse trainer, Monica Croston, pleaded guilty to an administration charge after Hezza Tidal Wave returned a cobalt reading of 219 micrograms per litre of urine at a race at Sandown some 3 years ago. Of interest in this decision was the fairly lenient sentence (by Cobalt standards) of a four months suspension.
This decision comes at a time when many in the racing industry, particularly in Queensland, are awaiting the results of the QCAT decision in the matter of harness racing trainer Darrel Graham who, over 4 years ago, was charged with a presentation offence and disqualified for 15 months. This decision is expected this week. It is understood that Mr Graham has challenged the decision on a number of procedural and scientific grounds including an argument around both the viscosity of the sample and the amount of organic cobalt contained in the sample.
Many in the scientific community believe the testing procedures for Cobalt are extremely flawed resulting in a large amount of false-positive readings. The decision is therefore highly anticipated. In the event that Mr Graham is found guilty by the QCAT member then there will be much interest in the penalty handed down. For reasons that the writer cannot comprehend, the penalties routinely handed down by stewards for Cobalt offences are far harsher than those for other prohibited substances. For instance, Meth Amphetamine positives are generally punished with a monetary penalty of a few thousand dollars, Bi-carb positives a 6-month penalty yet for Cobalt a 12-month disqualification seems to be the starting point. This is bewildering given that many scientists have questioned whether Cobalt is even performance enhancing at all.
Here at Miller Sockhill Lawyers, we are currently acting for a number of trainers who have been charged with Cobalt administration offences under the Australian Rules of Racing. In recent cases we have utilised the services of Professor Colin Chapman who is Emeritus Professor of Pharmacy at Monash University and Ross Wenzel who is a senior scientist at NSW Health Pathology and has developed testing procedures to determine the levels of both inorganic and organic Cobalt in a urine sample. Together we are driving reform around the science of testing and justice for trainers incorrectly charged.
Our Principal Lawyer, Anthony Miller regularly advises clients on sports law matters. Miller Sockhill Lawyers are located at 10 Aerodrome Road, Maroochydore on the Sunshine Coast.
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