The Irish Greyhound Board has lost a battle over the most high-profile dog doping case in recent times, leaving it with substantial legal costs.
A ruling by the sport’s Independent Control Committee accepted “compelling and uncontroverted” expert evidence that one of the favourites in the 2010 €125,000 derby final was given a sedative while it was in the care of the IGB.
This evidence said there was a 99% probability that the dog was not given the substance before its trainer handed him over to officials at Shelbourne Park at 6.30pm on the evening of the race.
The ruling means the financially troubled company faces a legal bill well in excess of €250,000 plus the costs of the expensive proceedings during the two-and-a-half-year legal dispute.
The case arose after a dog, Tullymurry Act, was adjudged to have tested positive for cyclizine ahead of the 2010 Ladbrokes Derby final.
The drug is used to treat humans for travel sickness and typically makes an animal drowsy rather than acting as a stimulant.
Despite arriving into the derby final with a strong record, Tullymurry Act came last, 12 lengths behind the fifth-placed dog.
Shortly afterwards, the regulation section of the IGB revealed the drug was found in urine samples taken before and after the race.
The dog’s Cappawhite trainer, Pat Buckley, and English owner, Keith Allsop, immediately contested the result through their solicitors, CP Crowley of Galway. In a statement at the time, they said they were baffled by the allegation but have not commented since.
During the process, there were 12 days of hearings before the Independent Control Committee. The IGB put forward 13 witnesses. The hearings involved stenographers, solicitors, senior counsel for both parties, and scientific experts from the US and England.
The bill has not been finalised, but a conservative provision for legal costs has hit €250,000. This could be substantially exceeded when all claims are considered by the ICC following a costs hearing two days ago.
The dispute centred on whether the drug found in Tullymurry Act’s system was administered by those who presented the dog on the night or whether it could have been given to it by a third party while the dog was in the kennels at Shelbourne Park for three hours.
A lot of the arguments questioned how long the drug would typically be retained in a greyhound’s system before passing through.
The ruling found the drug was not administered by the trainer, Mr Buckley, or by any member of his family, but that the drugging occurred while Tullymurry Act was in the IGB’s care.
It is not clear how many people had access to the kennels prior to the race or what security was in place at the kennels.
The Independent Control Committee said no allegations had been made against any third party who might have had access to the kennels.
The team involved in Tullymurry Act did not comment on the ruling.
The IGB issued a statement to say it would be inappropriate to comment on the case, as it had not yet concluded.
The costs issue has still to be resolved.
The IGB has been hit with substantial legal bills in the past arising out of internal disputes. The company is currently struggling to keep its finances stable after it incurred significant debts following its decision to build a new stadium and headquarters in Limerick.
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