Hughie Morrison questions BHA’s rigour as Our Little Sister hearing concludes

Hughie Morrison questions BHA’s rigour as Our Little Sister hearing concludes

first_img Since you’re here… Reuse this content Share on Facebook Topics Share on Messenger Share on Pinterest news Hughie Morrison painted a picture of official laxity allowing a racehorse doper to go undetected as his hearing drew to a close before a disciplinary panel. Morrison, a trainer based in Berkshire, says that malicious intervention accounts for one of his slowest horses testing positive for an anabolic steroid in January and believes he should not be punished when the verdict is published on Friday.“That person is still out there and I want to catch them, for my own sanity,” Morrison said. “I feel let down the British Horseracing Authority have not raised their game to a higher level to protect me, my staff and the industry.” The Recap: sign up for the best of the Guardian’s sport coverage Horse racing tips Nicky Henderson: ‘The press have beaten me to bits … they’re calling me a liar’ Support The Guardian … we have a small favour to ask. 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We need your support to keep delivering quality journalism that’s open and independent. Every reader contribution, however big or small, is so valuable. Support The Guardian from as little as $1 – and it only takes a minute. Thank you. Read more McPherson said the BHA, having failed to preserve CCTV that might show some outsider entering the horse’s box, then failed to pursue appropriate investigations on the basis that the offence is one of strict liability. “The mindset was, Mr Morrison is the responsible person, so we do not have to do any more. In terms of doing the best for the sport, it is not good enough.”The lawyer argued that Morrison’s actions in furthering the investigation and proving the fact of a deliberate injection were hardly those of a guilty man. “Either it’s the elaborate bluff of a man trying to brazen it out or he’s an innocent man, dissatisfied with the failings of the BHA investigation.” He echoed Morrison’s evidence that it would be “professional suicide” to run a horse with a steroid in its system and suggested Morrison would have to be “a very high-risk individual” to have run this filly three times with nandrolone in her.McPherson attempted to explain why, if some third party maliciously injected Our Little Sister, they did not then try to alert the BHA of the need to test her; the BHA insists she was chosen for testing at random. “Maybe they had an attack of conscience, maybe they intended to get at someone else,” he said. “It’s speculation.”Philip Evans QC, for the BHA, questioned Morrison about having hired a private investigator, who then sent an email to another trainer last week, seemingly inviting them to admit their involvement. “Reputation is everything and yours may be unfairly hit by this hearing,” the email said.“That’s a threat, isn’t it?” Evans asked Morrison, who denied any knowledge and insisted he had asked for no such email to be sent. McPherson said the private investigator had “gone off on a frolic of his own” but Evans countered that Morrison’s account was “incredible” and undermined his credibility.Evans suggested that Morrison or a member of his staff must have been responsible and described the trainer as adopting “a scattergun approach to his denial”. “What you see in the correspondence is a thorough effort by the BHA to follow up almost every lead suggested by Mr Morrison.”However, Evans had to concede “one error” when the BHA’s investigating team leader, Tim Miller, initially responded to Morrison’s request for the Southwell CCTV. Miller’s first response was that he had viewed it himself and seen nothing of import. Evans said that mistake had been corrected “a few days later”, when Miller conceded he had been thinking of CCTV from another track [see footnote].Evans said, in the event the panel accepts that malicious intervention had caused the positive, the BHA would not then ask for a period of disqualification from the sport or even a suspension of Morrison’s ability to run horses.McPherson argued that Morrison should receive no punishment but contended for a £1,000 fine if the panel disagreed. A verdict with abbreviated reasons will be published at noon on Friday.• This footnote was added on 4 January 2018. The BHA later clarified that Evans had misunderstood the source of the confusion around the CCTV: “Tim reported to head office that he had seen footage from one of the other courses and reported that it showed nothing, but someone at head office thought that he had meant Southwell and therefore reported this back to Hughie Morrison. This was then corrected as soon as the mix-up became apparent.”Thursday’s tips, by Chris CookSouthwell 11.45 Good Time Ahead 12.15 Moving Robe 12.45 Why Me (nb) 1.15 Gettin’ Lucky 1.45 Helen Sherbet 2.15 Bushel 2.50 Ghaseedah 3.25 Archie StevensTowcester 12.25 The Bottom Bar 12.55 Some Finish 1.25 Rif Raftou 1.55 Rather Be 2.25 Tommy Rapper 3.00 Somewhere To Be (nap) 3.35 QueenoheartsExeter 12.35 Ebonys Encore 1.05 The Nipper 1.35 Llancillo Lord 2.05 Overtown Express 2.40 Travertine 3.15 Ocean Cove 3.45 Bact To BlackChelmsford 5.45 Complicit 6.15 Artieshow 6.45 Best Blue 7.15 Dellaguista 7.45 Anna Medici 8.15 Cappananty Con 8.45 Pulsating Read more Horse racing Share via Email Share on WhatsApp He said one member of his staff had been hospitalised with a stress-related condition during the investigation, arising out of the first positive test returned by any of Morrison’s runners over 25 years.“The BHA has been content to leave this as a mystery,” said Graeme McPherson QC, representing Morrison. “That is just not consistent with what a responsible regulator ought to be doing when it knows someone out there injected an anabolic steroid into a horse.“Not at any time has the BHA carried out any investigation into what drug caused this filly to test positive,” said McPherson, alluding to which drug contained the nandrolone found in Our Little Sister. He added that Laurabolin had only been identified through testing of a hair sample, work Morrison commissioned himself because the BHA had not done so.That finding, McPherson said, ought to have electrified the BHA investigation, since it proved the drug must have been injected rather than ingested and had therefore been introduced deliberately, with contamination ruled out. It also suggested a timeframe for the injection, around the time that Our Little Sister ran at Southwell on 2 January and was left unattended in the racecourse stables for a time.Only at that point, in late March, did the BHA ask Southwell to produce its CCTV recordings for 2 January but they had been wiped by then. Tracks are only required to keep footage for 60 days, which period had lapsed, but in any case it emerged that Southwell had been keeping its footage for only 32 days, for which the course may now face a penalty. Share on LinkedIn Share on Twitter British Horseracing Authoritylast_img

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