Non Raceday Inquiry – Written Reasons for Penalty Decision dated 17 November 2023 – Stephen McInerney

ID: RIB29764

Stephen McInerney - Other (Licensed Kennel Hand)

Mr Simon Irving - RIB Investigator

J Lovell-Smith (Chair), N Moffatt

Persons Present:
Nil - on the papers

Information Number:
A16912, A16913

Decision Type:
Non-race Related Charge

Charge 1: Prohibited Substance in Greyhound; Charge 2: Prohibited Substance in Registered Person

139(3) - Prohibited substance, LR19C - Prohibited substance


Animal Name:


Hearing Date:

Hearing Location:
On the papers

Outcome: Proved

Penalty: Licensed Kennel Hand Stephen McInerney is disqualified for 3 years

[1] Stephen Ross McInerney is a Licensed Kennel Hand issued by the New Zealand Greyhound Racing Association (NZGRA). He faces two charges.

Charge 1:

On the 13th of April 2023, Stephen Ross McInerney, Licensed Kennel Hand in charge of the Greyhound “ALPHA RILEY” who was “out of competition” tested at his Himatangi kennel, failed to produce the Greyhound free of the Permanently Banned Prohibited Substance Methamphetamine and Amphetamine, being an offence under the provisions of Rule 139(3) and punishable pursuant to the NZGRA Rules.


139(3): A sample taken from a greyhound being trained by a trainer or in the care of a licensed person has been established to contain a permanently banned prohibitive substance:

(a) The trainer or any other person who was in charge of the relevant greyhound at the relevant time shall be guilty of an offence;

139(1): The following prohibited substance or any metabolite, isomer or artefact of any of them are deemed to be permanently banned prohibited substances:

(g) diacetylmorphine (heroin), benzoylmethylegonine (cocaine), diethylamide (LSD), gamma hydroxybutyric acid (GHB) and its salts and amphetamine, methylamphetamine and methylenedioxy=methamphetamine (MDMA).


In addition to testing pursuant to the Rules 136(1) and Rule 154 of these Rules, the Racing Integrity Board or an officer of GRNZ may carry out or cause to be carried out tests they think fit in relation to a greyhound at any time for the purposes of this Rule.

Charge 2:

On the 3rd of May 2023 at Himatangi, Licensed Kennel Hand Stephen Ross McInerney, having been required by a Racing Investigator to supply a sample of urine in accordance with Rule LR19C(1) of the NZGRA Rules, you provided urine which upon analysis was found to contain Methamphetamine and Amphetamine being a Class A Controlled Drug as defined in the Misuse of Drugs Act, being an offence under the provisions of Rule LR19C(2) and liable for a penalty pursuant to Rule 174(1) of the Rules.



(1) Where the Racing Integrity Board has cause to suspect a registered person has used any Class A controlled drug or any Class B controlled drug as defined in the Misuse of Drugs Act 1975, the Racing Integrity Board may require the person to supply a hair and/or urine sample, and the registered person must comply with such a requirement.

(2) A sample supplied by a registered person under subrule 11 must not contain any Class A controlled drug as defined in the Misuse of Drugs Act 1975 and/or its metabolites, artefacts or isomers.

[2] Charges 1 and 2 are admitted by Mr Stephen McInerney and proved.

[3] This hearing is on the papers as requested by Mr Stephen McInerney and the Racing Integrity Board.

[4] Mr Stephen McInerney accepts the Summary of Facts as follows:

1. The Respondent Mr Stephen Ross McInerney is the holder of a Kennel Hand Licence issued by the New Zealand Greyhound Racing Association (NZGRA).

2. Mr Stephen McInerney operates a satellite kennel at Himatangi for his father, NZGRA Public Trainer John McInerney, who has his main training facility in Darfield, Canterbury.

3. On 13 April 2023 the Racing Integrity Board (RIB) conducted a kennel audit at the Himatangi kennel. Kennel audits are a function of the RIB to ensure compliance with Industry standards.

4. As part of the audit, four McInerney trained Greyhounds were swabbed for ‘Out of Competition’ (OOC) testing. OOC testing is conducted for detection of Permanently Banned Prohibited Substances only.

5. One of the Greyhounds selected to be swabbed was ALPHA RILEY, a rising 2yo who had had six previous starts. A urine sample was obtained from ALPHA RILEY at 3.10 pm by an RIB Steward in the presence of Stephen McInerney. The sample was recorded with the Sample Identity Record 157772.

6. On 01 May, New Zealand Racing Laboratory Services (NZRLS) issued a certificate of analysis detailing the sample positive to Methamphetamine and Amphetamine, Permanently Banned Prohibited Substances pursuant to Rule 139(1) of the NZGRA Rules.

7. On 03 May, RIB Investigators visited both kennels and spoke to both John and Stephen McInerney and a family friend who was assisting Stephen at Himatangi.

8. At 11.07am Mr Stephen McInerney provided a urine sample to a Drug Testing Official which screened positive to the presence of Methamphetamine, Amphetamine & Cannabinoids [THC]. The sample was sent to the ESR Laboratory for confirmatory analysis.

9. On 09 May the ESR Laboratory issued a Urine Drug Test Report confirming the presence of both Amphetamines and Methamphetamine and THC Acid at a level of 180ML. Mr Stephen McInerney was advised of the confirmatory result the following day and served a copy of the report and a Notice withdrawing his Licence pursuant to Rule LR19C(3)(b).

10. Forensic samples were taken from a freezer at the property and the van used by Stephen to transport Greyhounds to and from the races. While the freezer was negative, the van returned positive results for traces of Methamphetamine from four different locations.

11. When interviewed, Mr John McInerney acknowledged that Mr Stephen McInerney had his trouble with drugs in the past and knew he had undertaken a drug and alcohol programme in 2022, passing all his drug tests, but did not know the drug was Methamphetamine.

12. Mr John McInerney has also been charged pursuant to NZGRA Rules as the Trainer of ALPHA RILEY, failing to produce the dog free of a Permanently Banned Prohibited Substance.

13. At Mr John Mclnerney’s request, the B sample was sent to Racing Analytical Services Ltd (RASL) in Flemington, Victoria for reserve sample analysis. On 31 May RASL issued a Certificate of Analysis confirming sample 157772 positive to Methamphetamine and Amphetamine.

14. Mr Stephen McInerney was interviewed on 03 May 2023.

a) He stated that he first used Methamphetamine 10 years ago but had been ‘clean’ for 18 months and had attended a six-month counselling programme during that time but had since started using again.

b) He admitted that he was smoking the drug a couple of times per week but always kept it out of the kennels and away from the dogs and never smoked in the van when transporting dogs.

c) He also admitted that he had smoked Methamphetamine on the evening before he was tested.

15. The Racing Integrity Board’s position is that the cause of ALPHA RILEY’S positive sample is likely due to contamination through Stephen’s use of the drug Methamphetamine.

16. Mr Stephen McInerney has no previous NRI charges.

[5] Mr Stephen McInerney has one previous charge of failing to comply with a lawful order of a Steward in February 2009 and a written warning for a similar incident in 2017.

Penalty Provisions

The penalty provisions in the Rules provide:


An Adjudicative Committee may as it thinks fit penalise a person found guilty of an offence under the Rules by any one or a combination of the following penalties:

(a) A reprimand (sometimes known as a warning or caution);
(b) A fine not exceeding $10,000.00 for any one offence except a living or baiting offence under Rule 159;
(c) Suspension;
(d) Disqualification;
(e) Cancellation of a registration or a licence, or in the case of a Club its affiliation to GRNZ; or
(f) Warning off.

LR174A Penalties for prohibited substances offences:

(1) GRNZ may after consulting with the Racing Integrity Board, prescribe different categories of prohibited substances for the purpose of specifying starting points for the penalties for offences involving these different categories or prohibited substance.

(2) An Adjudicative Committee is to have regard to the prescribed starting points when considering any matter relating to the level of penalty imposed or to be imposed in respect of an offence involving a prohibited substance.

Penalty Submissions

[6] The Racing Integrity Board filed written submissions on penalty. Although no submissions to penalty were received from Mr Stephen McInerney, the Adjudicative Committee takes into account the positive reports from the Drug Rehabilitation Programmes he has undertaken to address his Methamphetamine addiction including his meeting with the Racing Industry’s Clinician.

[7] The Racing Integrity Board confirmed that there is no evidence that the Greyhound “ALPHA RILEY” was deliberately administered Methamphetamine and that the evidence supports “a likely cross contamination through Mr Stephen McInerney’s use of Methamphetamine”. The Greyhound was OCC tested on 13 April 2023 and was nominated and did race the following day finishing second, but not swabbed as the results of the OCC were not known at this time.

[8] The aggravating factors of the offending are Mr Stephen McInerney’s use of Methamphetamine. There should be no distinction in penalty between Raceday and OOC positives with regard to Permanently Banned Substances.

[9] The impact of these substances is a serious animal welfare issue. It is vital for the integrity and public perception of the sport that the same high standards are adhered to within competition and outside of it.

[10] This is the seventh case of a Greyhound testing Methamphetamine positive in three years (Waretini; Gowan; E Toomer; Turnwald; K Toomer. In 2018 there was the case of Schofield). In half of these cases, there was a causal link to a Methamphetamine user. As these Decisions are openly published, all Greyhound Industry participants must be acutely aware of the charges of exposing Greyhounds in their care to Methamphetamine use.

[11] The Racing Integrity Board submits that a cumulative penalty in this case should be a period of disqualification for 3 years, backdated to 10 May 2023, the date in which Mr Stephen McInerney’s Licence was withdrawn.

[12] The Racing Integrity Board is not opposed to part of Mr Stephen McInerney’s disqualification being suspended under similarly stipulated conditions as in RIB v Lockett.

[13] With regard to mitigating factors, the Racing Integrity Board confirmed that Mr Stephen McInerney admitted both charges at the earliest opportunity, avoiding additional investigative or prosecution costs to the Racing Integrity Board. He was honest and forthright about his battles with Methamphetamine and has engaged in intensive counselling personally. He engaged with the AOD Clinician to NZ Racing Industry who at that time was satisfied he was receiving appropriate assistance through his own initiatives.

Mr Stephen McInerney’s Submissions

[14] No written submissions as to penalty were received. Mr Stephen McInerney provided references from three mental health and addiction treatment and rehabilitation providers confirming successful completion of programmes addressing his addiction and maintaining abstinence to remain “on the right track to a good healthy recovery for his own future.”


[15] The Decision in RIB v Lockett (2022) is relevant to the facts in this case as submitted by the Racing Integrity Board.

[16] Ms Lockett, a Thoroughbred Trainer, presented her horse to race which tested positive for Methamphetamine. Although Ms Lockett stated she had not taken the drug for several months, both her urine and hair samples tested positive for Methamphetamine as did forensic testing of the cab of her horse truck used to transport the horse to the races on the day the horse tested positive for Methamphetamine. In their Decision as to Penalty, the Adjudicative Committee said:

There are serious animal welfare issues arising from the presentation of a horse to race with Methamphetamine in its system. This has a significant impact on the Racing Industry’s reputation for high standards of animal welfare: The Industry cannot maintain its social Licence in order to continue to operate without maintaining a high standard of animal welfare. Ms Lockett’s actions have brought the Industry into disrepute and they challenge the integrity of the sport which could potentially have a devastating effect from a resulting lack of confidence from the wagering public.

[17] Methamphetamine or Methylamphetamine is a Category 2 Prohibited Substance, a Permanently Banned Substance listed in Rule 139 of the Rules of NZ Greyhound Association. The Rules recommend a starting point of five years disqualification with regard to breaches of administration and presentation.

[18] Methamphetamine is an “illicit Class A Drug.” The importance of animal welfare must be considered in respect of Greyhounds being exposed to Methamphetamine contamination, “a potential central nervous system stimulant” which poses significant animal and human, health and welfare issues. The Racing Integrity Board regards incidents as in this case, as placing the integrity and viability of the Industry at risk.

[19] The Adjudicative Committee agrees with the Racing Integrity Board’s submission that the nature of Methamphetamine is a particularly aggravating factor and the need for general deterrence requires a more severe penalty as it is the responsibility of Owners and Trainers to protect their animals from exposure to Methamphetamine.

[20] In respect of each charge, the Adjudicative Committee adopts the recommended starting point of 5 years disqualification.

[21] There is no issue that the mitigating factors in this case are Mr Stephen McInerney’s admission to both charges at the earliest opportunity, his honesty and cooperation with the Racing Integrity Board’s investigation and the serious rehabilitative steps he has taken to address his Methamphetamine addiction including his meeting with the Racing Industry’s Clinician. He has been involved in the Greyhound Industry all his life and has incurred one historical unrelated charge which is not relevant to penalty in this case.

[22] The Adjudicative Committee accepts the Racing Integrity Board’s submissions as to the appropriate penalty.

[23] On each charge, Mr Stephen McInerney is disqualified for 18 months.

[24] Rule 176 provides for the imposition of cumulative penalties. As the two charges are separate offences occurring at separate times, the terms of disqualification of 18 months are to be cumulative, totalling 3 years.

[25] As a consequence, Mr Stephen McInerney is disqualified for three years commencing on 10 May 2023, the date his Licence was withdrawn.

[26] With regard to the suspension of the disqualification, the Adjudicative Committee refers to the Racing Integrity Board’s submission supporting a suspension of 18 months for Mr Stephen McInerney’s efforts to address his Methamphetamine addiction confirmed by the reports from appropriate rehabilitation programme providers.

[27] For these reasons, pursuant to s 812(b), the Adjudicative Committee orders that Mr McInerney after serving 18 months disqualification may apply for suspension of the disqualification in respect of the remaining 18 months on the following conditions:

(a) Evidence he is controlled drug free.

(b) Confirmation that he has completed his drug treatment and rehabilitation to the satisfaction of an appropriate treatment and rehabilitation provider.

(c) After three months suspension of the disqualification period, Mr McInerney must provide a negative drug test which is to be undertaken as instructed by the Racing Integrity Board in consultation with the AOD Clinician to the Racing Industry.

(d) Mr McInerney is responsible for all costs incurred.


[28] There is no order for costs as they were not sought by the Racing Integrity Board.

Decision Date: 15/11/2023

Publish Date: 18/11/2023