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Non Raceday Inquiry RIU v T J Askew - Decision dated 5 September 2017 - Chair, Mr A Godsalve

Created on 06 September 2017




AND IN THE MATTER of the New Zealand Rules of Thoroughbred Racing



AND TIMOTHY JAMES ASKEW - Licensed Trackwork Rider


Information No : A8460

Date of Hearing : 31 August 2017

Venue : Alexandra Park Raceway

Judicial Committee : Mr A Godsalve, Chairman - Mr B Scott, Committee Member

Appearing : Mr O Westerlund - Investigator, Racing Integrity Unit

Mr TJ Askew – Licensed Trackwork Rider

Date of Decision : 5 September 2017


The Informant, Mr O Westerlund, Racing Investigator alleges that:

On Thursday the 29th day of June 2017, at Byerley Park Training Centre, Karaka, having been required by a Stipendiary Steward to supply a sample of urine in accordance with Rule 656(3) of the New Zealand Rules of Racing, had urine which was found, upon analysis, to contain the controlled drug THC (Cannabis ) as defined in the Misuse of Drugs Act 1975 and thereby committed a breach of the said Rule 656(3) AND IS therefore liable to the penalty or penalties which may be imposed pursuant to Rule 803 of the said Rules.


At the commencement of the hearing the charge was read out in full to the Respondent, who indicated that he understood the Rule, and the charge, and that he admitted the breach.

Summary of Agreed Facts by the Informant

On Thursday 29th June 2017, officials from the Racing Integrity Unit conducted routine drug testing at Byerley Park Training Centre, Karaka.

Timothy James ASKEW was one of the people randomly selected for testing and was served the appropriate notice at 7.35am by a Stipendiary Steward.

Mr ASKEW later provided the required urine sample, however the sample was deficient in Creatine meaning it was unable to be analysed. Mr ASKEW was then served with a notice requiring him to present himself at The Drug Detection Agency office in Pukekohe before 3pm that day in order to provide a sample.

This sample was provided at 1.10pm and gave an indicative positive test to THC (Cannabis).

The sample was given the unique number U302615 and forwarded to the ESR later that day by a Drug Detection Agency (TDDA) authorised agent of the Racing Integrity Unit for confirmation analysis.

On 3rd July 2017, the Racing Integrity Unit was advised, in writing, that the sample provided by Mr ASKEW had, on analysis, been found to contain the controlled drug THC (Cannabis) Acid Level >300 ng/mL.

A Stand Down Notice and a copy of the ESR Certificate in accordance with Rule 657(1)(a) was served on Mr ASKEW on Monday the 24th July 2017 as provided in Rule 911(1)(a).

Mr ASKEW was spoken to and he stated that he had smoked Cannabis about 1-2 months ago prior to undertaking the test. He further stated that he is always with people who smoke Cannabis.

Mr ASKEW voluntarily stood himself down from any further riding on the 29th June 2017 until the results of the ESR analysis were confirmed and the Stand Down Notice served.

Timothy ASKEW is a single man aged 21 years and is a freelance licensed track rider. He has no previous history of Rule breaches for drug related offending.

Submissions by the Respondent

Mr Askew confirmed that he was aged 21 years and was a freelance trackwork rider in and around Byerley Park, Pukekohe. He added that he held a full-time job outside of racing, and made himself available to several trainers in the Pukekohe area when they were busy with young horses or horses in the early stages of being ‘broken in’.

Mr Askew added that a number of his friends of a similar age to himself had had 21-year-old birthday parties recently. He said that he had attended a number of those parties, and that it was common for Cannabis to be smoked at these parties. He said that he had smoked Cannabis himself ‘a couple of months’ prior to being subjected to the testing regime which resulted in this charge. He said that he was not a regular Cannabis user, and had in fact been tested previously by RIU Investigators which did not result in any charges.

Informant: Submissions on Penalty


1.1 The respondent Timothy James ASKEW is a Licensed Track Rider under the New Zealand Rules of Thoroughbred Racing.

1.2 He has been involved in the racing industry all his adult life.

1.3 Mr ASKEW is 21 years of age with a date of birth of 19th March 1996.

1.4 The Racing Integrity Unit is seeking a penalty of 6 weeks suspension and costs of $187.50.


2.1 Mr ASKEW has admitted the Breach against Rule 656(3) NZTR, in relation to the positive drug test undertaken on the 26th June 2017 at Byerley Park Training Centre.

2.2 The details of Mr ASKEW’s offending are contained in the Summary of Facts which have been agreed to.

2.3 New Zealand Thoroughbred Racing has been drug testing industry participants since 1995 and since that time there has been a growing awareness that there is an absolute obligation on those riding horses to present themselves free of the influences of any drugs.

2.4 All riders are aware of the policy and the consequences should they not comply. The testing is conducted for two reasons, the need to maintain a healthy and safe workplace and secondly to maintain the integrity of the industry.

2.5 Historical penalties for breaches of the industry drug laws show some divergence. The type of drug, the situation and the amount of the drug in the system add to this divergence.

2.6 On this occasion Mr ASKEW presented himself at Byerley Park Training Centre to ride track work while the drug THC (Cannabis) was within his body.

2.7 THC (Cannabis) is a Class C controlled drug within the meaning of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1975.


3.1 The penalties which may be imposed are fully detailed in the Charge Rule Penalty Provisions document.


4.1 The four principles of sentencing can be summarised briefly:

- Penalties are designed to punish the offender for his/her wrong doing. They are not meant to be retributive in the sense the punishment is disproportionate to the offence but the offender must be met with a punishment.

- In a racing context it is extremely important that a penalty has the effect of deterring others from committing similar offences.

- A penalty should also reflect the disapproval of the JCA for the type of offending in question.

- The need to rehabilitate the offender should be taken into account.

4.2 All four principles apply in this matter.


5.1 In support of this penalty I will refer to five previous decisions by the J.C.A which may be of some assistance.

5.1.1 RIU v SWINBURNE (22.05.17) –In this case an unlicensed track rider tested positive to Methamphetamine, Amphetamine and Cannabis (77ng/mL). He was sentenced to 10 months suspension on the Methamphetamine and Amphetamine charge and 3 months suspension on the Cannabis charge, to be served concurrently, in addition to the costs of $187.50.

5.1.2 RIU v COLLINS (19.06.17) –In this case a licensed track work tested positive to Cannabis (78 ng/mL). He received a 6 week suspension and costs of $187.50.

5.1.3 RIU v HEEMI (24.11.16) -In this case a licensed track work rider tested positive to Cannabis. He received a 6 week suspension and costs of $187.50.

5.1.4 RIU v ROBINSON (24.11.16) -In this case a licensed track work rider tested positive to Cannabis (270 ng/mL). He received a 6 week suspension and costs of $187.50.

5.1.5 RIU v BORROWS (14.12.15) In this case a track work rider tested positive to Cannabis (110 ng/mL). She received a 2 month suspension and costs of $187.50.


6.1 That he has admitted the breach at the first opportunity.

6.2 That he has been fully co-operative throughout the process.

6.3 That he voluntarily stood himself down when he was aware of the positive result of the analysis of his sample.

6.4 That he has no previous history of Rule breaches for drug related offending.


7.1 That Mr ASKEW should be well aware that the use of Cannabis is prohibited under the Rules and he had admitted using Cannabis prior to been tested.


8.1 It is submitted that a period of 6 weeks suspension and the cost of the analysis of $187.50 (to the RIU) should be imposed.

Respondent : Submissions on Penalty

Mr Askew informed the Committee that he was aware of other track riders in similar circumstances who had had their licenses suspended for a 6 week period and accepted that his penalty would reflect that.

Mr Askew added that he had learned a valuable lesson and would not be smoking Cannabis in the future.

Reasons for Penalty

1. The JCA Penalty Guide does not provide a starting point for breaches of this Rule. It makes reference to the penalties being ‘fact dependant’.

2. Committees are therefore required to take each set of circumstances, relative readings, and past breaches into consideration when assessing appropriate penalties.

3. Any penalty must also be a deterrent to others in the industry and be seen to preserve the integrity of Racing.

4. Clearly, penalties imposed on other industry participants in similar circumstances are relevant. Most of the penalties imposed in cases of a similar nature as referred to by Mr Westerlund in his submissions have resulted in suspensions of licences for between 6 weeks to 3 months.

5. Mr Askew presented and conducted himself at the hearing in an exemplary manner. He is employed on a full-time basis outside the racing industry. Track work riding does not form a major part of his employment, however he confirmed to the Committee that he intended to continue in that role. In fact, he informed the hearing that he would, at his own cost, have a test conducted and supply a ‘clear’ reading to the RIU before he began riding again. He now understands the implications of being in control of thoroughbreds-especially young animals-while affected by any illicit substance.


1. Mr Askew is ordered to pay the cost of the analysis ($187.50) to the RIU.

2. Mr Askew was informed that as far as his involvement in the racing industry was concerned he now had a recorded breach of the drug Rule against his name. Any further breach would have more serious consequences.

3. After taking all matters into consideration, the Committee deemed that a suspension of Mr Askew’s track riding licence for a period of 6 weeks was an appropriate penalty.

4. The Committee therefore orders that Mr Askew’s track riding licence be suspended for 6 weeks. Such suspension backdated to commence on 30th June 2017.

5. For the record that suspension was completed on 11 August 2017 and has therefore been served.

Alan Godsalve


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