Non Raceday Inquiry – Decision as to Penalty dated 6 October 2022 – Maree Gowan
BIG TIME CARDY
On the papers
Penalty: Trainer Maree Gowan is disqualified for 18 months
1. Ms M Gowan was found guilty, after a defended hearing on 22 September 2022, of a breach of Rule 61.5 of the New Zealand Greyhound Racing Rules in that as Trainer of, and person in charge of the greyhound “BIG TIME CARDY” which was found after testing at Manawatu Raceway on 10 June 2022 to have in its urine the “Permanently Banned Prohibited Substances Methamphetamine and Amphetamine.”
2. The reasons for that decision are set out in the written decision dated 29 September 2022. Written submissions from the Applicant and Ms Gowan as to penalty have now been submitted.
The RIB Submissions
3. Ms Murrow referred to the testing being “out of competition” when the greyhound was at trials at the Raceway and that the betting public have not been directly impacted by the positive test, yet there ought not be any distraction, for penalty purposes between raceday and non-raceday positives where the substance is a “Permanently Banned Substance” as:
(a) Such substances – between a Class A Drug (Methamphetamine) – involved various animal welfare issues.
(b) As the Appeal Judges said in RIU v Turnwald (a raceday positive) “The matter of Animal Welfare in this Industry is a paramount consideration and any breach must not be tolerated as it strikes at the very heart of the integrity and reputation of the Industry. It is incumbent on Owners and Trainers to protect their animals from exposure to Methamphetamine.”
4. Reference was made to the case of RIU v Alford (a racing case), where it was said:
“If animal welfare standards are not upheld in the Industry and when necessary, with condign sanctions [by the JCA] the Industry cannot maintain a social licence in order to continue to operate. Methamphetamine is a potent central nervous system stimulant which poses significant animal health and welfare issues, it is an illegal Class A Drug.”
5. Ms Murrow noted that there had not been a case of a positive out of competition positive but referred to the cases of RIB v Prangley (September 2022) – a 2 years 7 months disqualification, RIB v Toomer – 3 years disqualification, RIU v Turnwald – 18 months disqualification plus $3,500 costs. She noted that the recommended starting point of 5 years disqualification for offences involving Permanently Banned Substances (as opposed to “prohibited substances”) does not differentiate between presentation and administration, whether in a race or out of such competition, and have been well publicised within the Greyhound Racing community.
6. She submitted that Ms Gowan had been obstructive throughout the process refusing to acknowledge any personal responsibility and “suggested” a term of 3 years disqualification.
The Respondents Submissions
7. Ms Gowan contended that she was not the source from which Methamphetamine contamination of “BIG TIME CARDY” resulted. She said that she had the sole care of 7 dogs and was unable to understand how the urine swab came to be positive for this dog. She said that training greyhounds had been her passion for many years being her main source of income, although she has an alternative part time job. She submitted that:
(a) Another greyhound of hers, which later raced on that day, was swabbed and returned a negative test. It travelled in the same vehicle as “BIG TIME CARDY”.
(b) Because this was “out of competition” the swab should not be compared to raceday swabs – that is, it was less serious.
(c) She should only be warned or receive a fine, not a disqualification.
8. The fact that another greyhound returned a negative swab is irrelevant, and cannot alter the fact that “BIG TIME CARDY” tested positive to Methamphetamine. This Class A Drug is most often only detectable in a urine sample 5-7 days after ingesting, although traces of Methamphetamine contamination on a surface may be present immediately depending on the type of transmission. “BIG TIME CARDY” could have been contaminated several days before 10 June 2022.
9. Although Ms Gowan seeks to distinguish as more serious the situations where a greyhound is competing in a race when not free of prohibited substance (Rule 61.1) and what she says is an “out of competition” positive swab, she misunderstands the Rules – which should be known to all Licensed Trainers. Rule 61.5 which she has breached, applies on ALL situations where the substance is a “Permanently Banned Substance”, which are listed as Category 2 Substances in the 5th Schedule to the Rules. That is because of their serious nature they are prohibited at all times whether in or out of competition. On the other hand, “prohibited substances” are those which are the subject of raceday swabs – but can be used in therapeutic situations, out of (but not in) competition. For example, certain anti-inflammatory analgesics). But Rule 61.5 is aimed at ensuring that “Permanently Banned Substances” are NEVER permitted in Greyhounds.
10. All Trainers ought know of this. In fact a “Reminder Notice” dated 18 May 2022 sent to all Trainers said:
“The Fifth Schedule sets out permanently banned substances. GRNZ expects any breaches to be detected which is why we fully support testing in and out of competition. This is to ensure the needs of greyhound welfare are always met. The prescribed penalty for positive tests is 5 years disqualification.”
11. Of course, that is an upper limit, but the nominated term reflects the crucial animal welfare requirements when harmful Permanently Banned Substances are found at any time.
12. Disqualification has occurred for periods of up to 3 years for presentation of dogs contaminated with banned substances which are not seen as grievous as Permanently Banned Substances. Examples are RIB v Prangley (2 years 7 months), RIB v E Toomer (3 years), RIU v Turnwald (18 months).
13. We are driven to conclude that a period of disqualification has to be imposed. The need to deter other Trainers to ensure all measures are taken to protect the welfare and health of greyhounds is imperative. It is vital for the protection of greyhounds, as well to promote the integrity and community perception of the Code, that high standards of care are adhered to whether in or out of scheduled competition.
14. We take as a starting point a period of 16 months disqualification. It is not an aggravating factor that Ms Gowan chose to defend the charge. But we agree with the RIB that, on the day the test was eventually taken, she was uncooperative, and obstructive – and for no good reason – in trying to avoid the testing process or delay it. Her claim that she fed the dog (half) a pie was – even if true – fanciful. An uplift of 3 months is required for the aggravating features. There can be no mitigation for admission of the charge, nor for any expression of remorse, contrition or regret. That she has not previously broken the Rules entitles a discount of 1 month.
15. Costs which have been incurred arising out of the defended hearing, are sought by the RIB.
16. Ms Gowan is disqualified for a period of 18 months, commencing on 31 October 2022 and concluding on 30 April 2024. The deferment is to enable her to make arrangements for others to train (and own) the greyhounds.
17. Ms Gowan is ordered to pay to the RIB the sum of $500, being a portion of the costs incurred by the Informant and the sum of $500 towards the costs of the Adjudicative Committee.
Decision Date: 06/10/2022
Publish Date: 10/10/2022