By: Daryl Timms
URINE samples from the three Lee and Shannon Hope horses to return positive cobalt tests will be retested by the Hong Kong Jockey Club’s Racing Laboratory after claims it was not accredited to carry out the tests at the time.
The urine has been stored at the laboratory since initial tests in 2014 revealed levels higher than the permissible 200 micrograms of cobalt per litre of urine.
It’s been revealed Racing Analytical Services Ltd and Racing Victoria proceeded with the tests despite being told by the laboratory on June 12, 2014, that its method of testing had not been approved by the relevant authority.
Approval was not given until June 3, 2015.
RV chief steward Terry Bailey said Australian racing rules allowed retesting of samples.
The laboratory says cobalt is not known to degrade and the three samples were refrigerated on arrival and then frozen.
It says it has no doubt the results of testing of the frozen samples will practically be the same as the original tests.
The Hopes, along with Flemington trainers Mark Kavanagh and Danny O’Brien, are fighting lengthy disqualifications through the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal after being found guilty by the Racing Appeals and Disciplinary Board of using illegal levels of cobalt in their horses.
The banned trainers are arguing the ChemCentre in Perth, which also tested urine samples, was also not accredited at the time.
RV lawyers argue both racing laboratories were accredited to conduct cobalt tests at the time and the only issue was the methods they applied.
Hong Kong Jockey Club executive director Andrew Harding told the Herald Sunthere was no material difference in the laboratory’s method to quantify cobalt in urine before or after it was accredited.
He said the laboratory was instrumental in establishing the now widely adopted International Federation of Horseracing Authorities threshold for cobalt in urine and the recently adopted IFHA threshold for cobalt in plasma.
“The club has tested for cobalt for over a decade and has analysed this element in well over 10,000 urine and plasma samples over this same period,’’ Harding said.
“All samples from horses that have raced in Hong Kong have tested below the international thresholds of 100 micrograms of total cobalt per litre in urine or 25 micrograms of total (free and protein bound) cobalt per litre in plasma.”