Cobalt delays due to lab backlog: Bailey

Racing Victoria chief steward Terry Bailey has blamed a backlog at the testing laboratory for the delays in telling trainers Danny O’Brien and Mark Kavanagh about their cobalt positives.

Bailey said the delay was “certainly not ideal” but came down to Perth’s ChemCentre being inundated with samples from across Australia.

The two trainers learned of their cobalt positives on January 14, 2015 – Kavanagh for a horse that raced on October 4, 2014, and O’Brien for three horses in November races.

O’Brien later learned of a fourth positive from a December race.

O’Brien argues he would have stopped using drips containing a substance called vitamin complex if he had known about Kavanagh’s October positive.

The trainer told stewards in January 2015: “We have a situation where there was horse that raced on the first Saturday of October that went over on these drips and you guys left the meter running until the middle of January.”

Bailey told O’Brien there was a backlog with the whole of Australia using one lab.

O’Brien and Kavanagh’s barrister Damian Sheales on Wednesday suggested Bailey told a deliberate lie when pressed by O’Brien.

Bailey replied: “That’s not right. ChemCentre were engulfed.

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“We even paid the prize money off the back of our RASL tests because of the delay.”

Bailey has admitted the rules of racing were not followed to the letter when Racing Analytical Services Ltd decided to split samples from mid-2014, with ChemCentre testing for cobalt and the Victorian lab for everything else.

Bailey said all thoroughbred jurisdictions seemed to be using ChemCentre, despite there being a second option, and it was how RASL wanted it handled.

He agreed Racing Victoria wanted a timely process after bringing in its cobalt threshold in April 2014.

“We were in the hands of ChemCentre,” he told the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal.

He said the delays in getting confirmation from ChemCentre were not ideal.

“My understanding was it was the backlog at ChemCentre, not the splitting process. As I understand it, the sheer weight of samples.”

Sheales has told VCAT that Bailey should not be believed, and that he has lied about all matters pertaining to cobalt and what Racing Victoria knew in 2014.

Bailey denies lying and has also rejected Sheales’ accusation he fabricated elevated total carbon dioxide (TCO2) readings as the reason two of O’Brien’s horses were held back after a January 2013 Flemington race meeting.

Bailey did clarify that there was a single elevated reading and that O’Brien’s stable was informed, after Sheales said O’Brien only found out through the media.

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