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Non Raceday Inquiry RIU v M J Flipp - Decision dated 12 March 2020 - Chair, Hon J W Gendall QC

Created on 13 March 2020

Before a Judicial Committee of the Judicial Control Authority

IN THE MATTER of the New Zealand Rules of Greyhound Racing

BETWEEN

The Racing Integrity Unit

(Mr Simon Andrew Irving, Investigator)

Informant

AND

Marcelle Jean Flipp

Licenced Greyhound Trainer

Respondent

Inquiry held at Palmerston North Raceway on 10 March 2020

Judicial Committee:

Hon J W Gendall QC – Chair

Mr T Utikere - Member

Present:

Mr S A Irving for RIU

Ms M J Flipp

Information number: A7195

DECISION OF JUDICIAL COMMITTEE DATED 12 MARCH 2020

(1) Ms Flipp has been a licenced trainer under the Rules of NZ Greyhound Racing for 18 years. She was the trainer and person in charge of the greyhound “Scoobasi” which was presented for and started in race 6 at the Wanganui Greyhound Racing Club meeting at Hatrick Raceway on 20 December 2019. She was charged with an offence against Rule 61.1 in that:

She failed to present that greyhound free of the Category 5 Prohibited Substance, namely Procaine.

(2) Under Rule 61.4 a greyhound found to have a prohibited substance in its system and races, shall be disqualified from that race.

(3) A person who commits a breach of Rule 61.1 is liable to a penalty under Rule 63.1 which provides for a fine not exceeding $10,000, disqualification, suspension, or warning off.

(4) Ms Flipp admitted the charge and after hearing submissions from the RIU and her, we imposed the following sanctions, namely:

(a) A fine of $2,000

(b) The RIU did not seek costs in its favour and we made no order for contribution to the costs of the JCA.

(c) The greyhound “Scoobasi” was disqualified from the race pursuant to Rule 61.4.

We now record a summary of our reasoning

(5) Procaine is designated as a Category 5 Prohibited Substance, which are substances that are registered in New Zealand for veterinary use and have accepted therapeutic benefits to a greyhound. Procaine is an anaesthetic used in injectable form with antibiotics. It is a restricted medicine usually used to reduce pain of intravenously injected penicillin. It is incorporated into a number of injectable antibiotic solutions for use in animals and will reduce pain and prolong the release and action of the injected drug. High doses in greyhounds, and other animals, can increase the levels of substances in the brain which control reward motivated behaviour and regulate mood and appetite. In greyhounds, it has a 14 day detection time and a 25 day withholding recommendation.

FACTS

(6) Ms Flipp has been a licenced greyhound trainer for over 18 years. She trains 46 greyhounds from premises in Palmerston North. She trained “Scoobasi” and presented it to start in race 6 at Hatrick Raceway on 20 December 2019. The dog was selected for a pre-race swab, which produced a sample that, on later analysis, tested positive for Procaine. The greyhound finished last of 8 runners and did not earn a stake. When later interviewed by RIU staff, Ms Flipp was not able to offer any explanation for the positive finding but surmised that the positive might have arisen from contaminated meat. When she enquired into that from her supplier of meat, this was denied by the supplier who, she said, was distinctly unhelpful.

(7)  Ms Flipp submitted on the issue of penalty:

• she has prided herself on her honesty and integrity over many years as a trainer of 18 years and being in the Greyhound industry for 23 years

• she had placed faith in her supplier of meat whom she had had for 5 years

• the positive test had to come from contaminated meat as 3 weeks previously the dog had returned a clear test from a blood sample

• she submitted that a fine only of $1,000 was appropriate

(8) Mr Irving on behalf of the RIU submitted that disqualification or suspension was not sought nor warranted. Given Ms Flipp’s long history and good record in the code, and bearing in mind the penalty guide, a fine of $2,500 was sought.

(9)  In fixing the sanction we took into account as a guide a starting point for a Category 5 Prohibited Substance breach which refers to “3 months disqualification/suspension and/or a fine of $4,000”. There are no aggravating factors relating to the breach or to Ms Flipp’s personal circumstances. She had one event with contaminated feed from a supplier leading to 4 charges but that was 7 years ago. She has no other transgressions over 18 years as a trainer. We have allowed her significant concession for this good record. Likewise, it is mitigating that she has not sought to put the RIU to the cost and task of proving the obvious breach. It is clear that any defence to the “presenting” charge would have been futile – but this does not always deter some others from defending such cases.

(10) We were referred to 3 previous cases of positive tests to Procaine and 2 more recent cases for breaches involving Category 5 Prohibited Substances. Fines have ranged between $2,000 and $3,000.

(11) Ms Flipp was cooperative throughout the investigation, admitted the breach early, and her integrity has not been questioned. Greyhounds trained by her have had over 2000 starts during the past 2 seasons, without untoward instances. From a starting point of $4,000, we have allowed significant concessions on the mitigating personal and other factors. Such a generous percentage would rarely be given in other cases, and is special to this case and has no precedent value.

(12) Trainers of greyhounds have an important onus placed on them of being scrupulously careful in the feeding and treatment of their dogs, and must ensure that negligent, yet unintended, breaches of the presentation Rule do not occur. Ms Flipp knew from past experience of contamination issues. We note that despite what has occurred on this occasion, she told us she still uses the same supplier relevant to this offence.

(13)  As recorded above, Ms Flipp is fined $2,000, there are no orders as to costs and “Scoobasi” is disqualified from 8th place in race 6 of the Wanganui Greyhound Racing Club meeting on 20 December 2019.

Dated at Wellington this 12th day of March 2020

Hon J W Gendall QC

Chair

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