Horse Racing

Life bans sought for 3 in Australian horse race doping case

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) Racing Victoria is seeking life bans for three of the eight people found guilty in one of the biggest doping controversies in the Australian thoroughbred horse industry.

Appearing Thursday at the Racing Appeals and Disciplinary Board, Racing Victoria lawyer Jeff Gleeson asked that trainer Robert Smerdon be disqualified for life and fined 100,000 Australian dollars ($75,000) for his part in the doping scandal that spanned seven years from 2010 to 2017 and involved an estimated 100 races.

Most of the offenses related to giving horses a banned mixture of sodium bicarbonate, or baking soda, before a big race. That is supposed to help reduce the build-up of lactic acid and allow the horses to run longer.

Gleeson said stable hand and horse trailer driver Greg Nelligan and Nelligan's wife, Denise, who was also employed by the stable, should also be given life bans for their roles in administering the sodium bicarbonate in paste form when the horses arrived at the race track.

Gleeson wants the five others who were found guilty - trainers Stuart Webb, Tony Vasil, Liam Birchley and Trent Pennuto and stable hand Daniel Garland - given five-year bans.

The eight were found guilty of 271 charges, the bulk of which were levelled at Smerdon and Greg Nelligan.

A selection of revealing text messages that were among thousands lifted from Nelligan's mobile phone were tendered in evidence.

Updated May 10, 2018