Irish authorities have clarified that no suspicions are harboured about the champion jumps trainer Willie Mullins, following news that a vet is accused of possessing unauthorised drugs while he was visiting Mullins’s stable in Carlow. Tim Brennan appeared in Kilkenny district court last week facing 14 charges and is due to appear again for a procedural hearing later this month.
An initial report on the subject referred to the substances being discovered during a February 2015 search of Mullins’s premises by the department of agriculture and the Turf Club, which regularly conduct joint searches of racing stables. However, it is believed that the substances in question are alleged only to have been in Brennan’s jeep and there is no suggestion of any banned substance being found in the stable itself.
“We’re absolutely aware of what occurred,” said Denis Egan, chief executive of the Turf Club, Irish racing’s regulatory body. “We have no concern about Willie Mullins arising from it.”
That view is also taken by the department of agriculture. Officials there are satisfied that there is “no evidence whatsoever of Mullins being implicated” and have concluded the trainer had “no knowledge” of any offence that might be proved against Brennan. Mullins declined to comment on Tuesday.
According to a summons seen by the Guardian, Brennan is charged with possessing five drugs which are not authorised for use as animal remedies under Irish law. These are quinidine sulfate, used in cases of irregular heartbeat, P-Block, a painkiller, Cortalone, an anti-inflammatory, Catosal, used to tackle B12 deficiency, and Hemo 15, which can be used to assist post-exercise recovery or to treat anaemia.
P-Block is on the banned list maintained by the International Equine Federation. Hemo 15 contains small amounts of cobalt, a possible source of concern since cobalt can be used to induce EPO in an attempt to delay fatigue.
Another source of concern arising out of Irish racing this week has been a report stating that an unnamed Grade One-winning jumps racehorse is part-owned by a leading member of a criminal gang. Ireland’s Criminal Assets Bureau conducted a series of raids over the weekend on residences and workplaces in Dublin, Meath and Kildare as part of an investigation into the activities of a west Dublin criminal group. Neither the Turf Club nor Horse Racing Ireland wanted to comment about the report or any action they might be taking in response.
On the broader subject of keeping criminals out of racing, Rupert Arnold, chief executive of the National Trainers’ Federation in Britain, said: “It’s not uncommon for trainers to contact us if they’ve got an owner behaving in a way that suggests they might be a threat to the integrity of racing or that they might be an undesirable. Trainers can also speak to the British Horseracing Authority on a confidential basis.”
The Proceeds of Crime Act imposes obligations that would apply to trainers if they had grounds for suspicion about a particular owner. In order for trainers to get a licence from the BHA, they must first convince the regulator that they can run a business with due skill and care, which would include showing an ability to recognise situations where an owner’s behaviour should be a source of concern.
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