16 November 2012

Stewards always had "ample powers" to stand down Oliver

One of Australia's most prominent officials has told Turf Confidential that Racing Victoria Stewards have always had "ample powers under the Australian Rules of Racing" to require jockey Damien Oliver to answer questions -- and to penalise him should he fail to do so to their satisfaction.
The official, who has decades experience at the senior level, said he was "at a loss as to why (Oliver) wasn't interviewed" by stewards as soon as he was identified as the mystery jockey who placed an illegal bet.
"If he refused to answer questions he could have been immediately stood down and asked to show cause why his licence should not be withdrawn under AR175 (f)," the official said.
Under AR.175 (f), stewards "can penalise" any jockey, indeed any licensed person:
"...who refuses or fails to attend or give such evidence as directed at any inquiry or appeal when requested by the Principal Racing Authority or Stewards to do so."
Likewise, under AR.175 (g), stewards can penalise:
"Any person who gives at any inquiry or appeal any evidence which in their opinion is false or misleading in any particular."
The official said he could see "no reason" why Oliver should not have been immediately called called before stewards, challenging the party line from Racing Victoria's CEO Rob Hines who said "stewards could not make any moves until Oliver had admitted placing the bet, which was last Monday".
If so, why shouldn't Damien Oliver be warned off for riding through the Carnival knowing he was guilty, collect reportedly more than $190,000 in riding fees, bringing racing and the Spring Carnival and the Melbourne Cup into international disrepute? It would seem Oliver has put personal gain ahead of the industry which has given him so much.
Hines has been making all the media running on the Oliver matter, sidelining his Chairman of Stewards who has been excluded from RVL's "due process" -- again without any explanation from Hines.
Our racing official source said he was "very surprised to see the Chief Steward disqualified from this investigation." He could think of no precedent for the way Racing Victoria has conducted the Oliver matter, including the setting up of a separate "independent" panel, quarantined from the rest of stewards.
Overnight we put 16 questions to Rob Hines but won't be making any comment "until Tuesday".
Racing Integrity Commisioner Sal Perna says he can't comment and his eagerly anticipated report is "still weeks away". Racing Minister Denis Napthine was unavailable for comment,  but his Opposition Shadow, Martin Pakula, told TC: "Racing Victoria should have been able to commence and conclude its investigation into Oliver before the Spring Carnival."
What we want to hear on Tuesday is the bloody good reason why Racing Victoria and its Chairman of Stewards have walked away from Australian Rule of Racing AR 175 (f) and therefore its primary responsibility to protect the betting public from corruption and maintain confidence in racing.

Way back in August, at the very outset of this spring of discontent, when The Age first broke the race fixing and corruption allegations, former Sydney Morning Herald racing journalist Craig Young wrote a prophetic column which asked:
"What is Racing Victoria doing? Licensed people have been named as part of the fix, or fixes, and still they ride. Informed pros are still betting. The form student still doing speed maps for jockeys.
"But Racing Victoria wants more information from the police. It is not forthcoming. It cries it doesn't have the power and needs beefed-up legislation. A load of bullocks! Racing has rules. The Australian Rules of Racing.
"All powerful statutes that have governed racing well down through the ages. The one that has in place what is called a show cause notice. The one that allows the regulator to ask people to explain why they should be allowed to be a part of racing.
"Allowed to set foot on a racecourse. Allowed to be involved in the sport. If they are found to be in breach, bringing the game into disrepute, they are outed.
"Suspended, fined, disqualified or even warned off. It is all there in the rules of racing. The old Australian Jockey Club, when it ruled this state, didn't waste time when the jockey tapes scandal broke. It ordered jockeys to front up."
After taking a redundancy some months back, we hear Young is now happily employed outside the industry. He was an ornament to the game, as they say, and his candour is sorely missed.

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