Thursday 22 August 2019

Greyhound owner challenges penalties after he was fined for doping dogs

The High Court, Dublin
The High Court, Dublin

Tim Healy

A greyhound owner has brought a legal challenge to the withholding of €36,500 in race prize money after he was fined for doping/contamination of three of his dogs.

Owen McKenna, New Inn, Cashel, Co Tipperary, has brought High Court judicial review proceedings against the Irish Greyhound Board (IGB) over the findings of its control committee which were later upheld by an appeal board.

Last February, an IGB control committee imposed five fines totalling €1,000 on Mr McKenna in relation to the dogs "Farloe Rumble", "Offshore Bound" and "Farloe Bliztz" which had run at Shelbourne park on September 5, 2015.

It also decided the prize money of €36,500 would be forfeited. The prohibited substances were Meloxicam and Hydrochlorothiazide.

Mr McKenna lodged an appeal and last month an appeal committee said Hydrochlorothiazide could affect greyhound performance and as there are no threshold levels for this prohibited substance, any finding of it in a dog was a breach of the 2007 Racing Regulations.

It also found Mr McKenna engaged in a reckless feeding regime for which he must accept the consequences. His appeal was dismissed, the fines upheld and the forfeiture of the prize money affirmed.

On Monday, Mr Justice Seamus Noonan granted Mr McKenna permission to challenge the control committee findings following an ex-parte (one side only represented) application by his counsel David Conlan Smyth.

The matter comes back to court in January.

Counsel said his client was not afforded fair procedures and there was a failure in the chain of evidence in that the samples taken from the dogs were sent for analysis to the UK for three months.

There was also a failure to give reasons as to why the feeding regime was other than normal.

More crucially, the IGB had changed its feeding policy in November 2015 and retrospectively applied this new regime to September (when the dogs raced). There was no breach under the previous regulations, counsel said.

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