Greyhound Racing NSW (GRNSW) today responded to the claims made in today’s Sun-Herald that questioned the integrity of the sport of greyhound racing.
GRNSW is dedicated to ensuring its integrity services are at the forefront of the wagering industry - not just in Australia, but across the world and GRNSW will continue to review its integrity policies and introduce new schemes to improve integrity services.
It is for this reason that GRNSW has asked the Greyhound Racing Integrity Auditor Graham Gorrie to independently review all swabs that have been taken in the past 12 months to address the allegation that there are missing swabs and that preferential treatment is being given to top trainers. GRNSW is taking this measure despite there being no evidence to support either claim.
The Sun-Herald puts forward the allegation from Carly Absalom and Dr. Ted Humphries that GRNSW’s current swabbing policy favours “high-profile” trainers. This allegation is simply not true.
Of the top 10 trainers in terms of winners, the majority had a higher swabs to starters ratio than the statewide industry in 2011, with the two below the average competing predominantly at Non-TAB meetings. GRNSW thinks it is regrettable that the Sun-Herald has attempted to soil the reputations of these participants when the statistics clearly establish that the allegations are baseless.
GRNSW also takes any allegations of criminal activity within the greyhound racing industry extremely seriously. Every registered participant with GRNSW undergoes a probity check that includes a National History Criminal Check.
GRNSW urges members of the public to get in contact with its integrity department or the NSW Police if they have information regarding criminal activity involving greyhound racing or its registered participants.
GRNSW will also make contact with greyhound owner David Allen, who was the only owner quoted in the Sun-Herald’s reporting, to hear his concerns with greyhound racing in NSW.
While GRNSW acknowledges the allegations made in the Sun-Herald, sadly much of the reporting is predominantly based on rumours from nameless sources and from people whose personal interests have been affected by changes made by GRNSW.
The article also mentions people who no longer have involvement with the sport including alleged bikie associate Ali Bilal (also known as Tony Soprano) who is not a licensed participant with GRNSW and has not been since 2011.
Neither the NSW Government nor the NSW Police have raised any concerns with GRNSW about an alleged infiltration of bikie groups in the sport.
For the 2012/13 financial year, GRNSW has nearly doubled its swabbing budget, an increase that will see the number of swabs in the TAB sector increase to 7.5 swabs per meeting. It will also result in the swabs to starter ratio rising by more than 2.5 times.
The increased expenditure on drug detection will result in the number of swabs being carried out at TAB meetings increasing from 2,764 to an estimated 6,750 in the current financial year – a rise of more than 150%.
The increase in the swabbing budget follows the 2011/12 financial year where the number of positive swabs recorded rose by 82% on the 2010/11 financial year. While this increase is disappointing, it underlines the success of GRNSW’s current approach to swabbing. It is undeniable that a targeted approach by integrity officials will be far superior in detecting potential drug cheats than relying on the element of chance provided by the ‘red marble’ system.
Swabbing percentages vary for each trainer, which shows GRNSW do not just stick to a mathematical formula but base its swabbing on form, judgement and race specific data, as should be the case.
The increase in the detection of prohibited substances coincides with GRNSW’s enhanced approach to race day integrity operations.
This includes the establishment of a ‘control room’ at GRNSW’s head office in Rhodes, which receiveslive feeds of the race broadcast footage, surveillance footage from the kennel blocks and utilises video conferencing equipment to facilitate communication between the tracks and office in real time together with modern bet monitoring tools.
The article also questions the role and independence of GRNSW’s Greyhound Welfare and Veterinary Services Unit. The decision by GRNSW to create this unit and employ its own Veterinarians was in part due to the conflict of interest that arose in most instances where on-course Veterinarians had a significant private commercial practice largely focused on greyhounds in the immediate locality of the race track at which they officiated.
The new approach of GRNSW removes this potential conflict of interest as the treating Veterinarian can no longer refer the greyhound to their own practice for their own financial gain or likewise come under any undue pressure from participants at the track who are clients of the Veterinarian in private practice.
In addition, veterinary surgeons employed by GRNSW can be fully integrated into the sport and therefore can be expected to make a significant contribution to its good regulation and welfare. Employing veterinarians is common-place in other codes of racing and indeed ensures independent veterinarian input into the regulatory process.
Remaining at the forefront of integrity developments is central to the ongoing success of greyhound racing in NSW and the new Board of GRNSW is committed to working with its Chief Executive Brent Hogan to achieve this.