No RV release of evidence in bicarb case

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February 22, 2018 - 06:45 PM

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Racing Victoria has refused requests to release the brief of evidence ahead of the hearing into the wide-ranging doping scandal involving race day treatments.

RV chief executive Giles Thompson issued a statement on Thursday saying the appropriate legal procedures would be followed.

Over the past two days, News Corp has published a series of text messages reported to be between some of the eight parties charged.

After an investigation sparked by the withdrawal of Lovani from a race at Flemington in October because of a suspected race day treatment, her trainer Robert Smerdon was charged in January with offences going back seven years.

Among the others charged are fellow trainers Stuart Webb, Tony Vasil, Liam Birchley and Trent Pennuto, who have all operated at some time under the Aquanita Racing banner.

Greg Nelligan and Denise Nelligan, employees of Smerdon and former employees of Vasil, as well as another Smerdon employee Daniel Garland also face charges over the illegal race day administration of alkalising agents (bicarb) to horses.

"We have received multiple requests from media outlets and are aware of on-going commentary requesting that we release our full brief of evidence associated with the Aquanita Case," Thompson said in a statement.

"... our first and only priority is to ensure that we follow the appropriate legal processes and framework to prosecute this case.

"Our integrity team gathered a considerable amount of evidence, including text messages, across an exhaustive four-month investigation which led to multiple charges being laid last month against eight people.

"In accordance with standard legal practice and in the interests of natural justice, the stewards' brief of evidence was shared with those charged who will have the right to defend themselves before the independent Racing Appeals and Disciplinary Board from 30 April.

"It would be totally inappropriate for us to publish evidence prior to that disciplinary hearing and we do not intend to do so. Under no circumstances do we wish to prejudice the conduct of this case."

A second directions hearing will be held next week.