Cleaning up Racing Equates to Hercules Cleaning King Augeas’ Stables
Where to start in order to make thoroughbred racing an honest game?
Jockeys betting on races in which they are taking part. Trainers trying every conceivable way possible to tilt the balance in their favour, even if it means risking a horse in the relentless quest for victory, acclaim and the accompanying financial rewards.
We have been following flats racing fairly closely for the better part of 10 years and one constant emerges: the cheaters are ahead of the regulators and those cheaters are constantly on the hunt to find new ways to juice their horses without being caught.
One suggestion is lifetime bans for trainers convicted of using performance-enhancing drugs on horses.
That solution equates roughly to capital punishment, which has never proven an effective deterrent to violent crime.
To use an extreme, purely hypothetical example, if Chris Waller were to be kicked out permanently, someone, one of his lieutenants, in all probability, would rise to take his place, determined to escape a similar fate by learning how to avoid the same situation. One thing to avoid isgetting caught with a syringe in your hands, as was the case recently when Matthew Leek was caught on the morning of a meeting at Pakenham attempting to inject two horses.
Leek was warned off for a year.
We are not implying that Waller has ever done any such, just borrowing him for the sake of the convenience of using a recognisable name.
How many times must leniency be shown to culprits who play the ignorance defense card?
Testing has gone a long way in ferreting out some of the worst offenders, but the reality that has existed for the entire time is that the cheaters have better chemists than the enforcers.
Is there an elegant, simple, sure-fire solution to the situation?
No one has offered one yet. If we had the answer, we would be rich beyond almost all visions of avarice, and our visions are quite vivid.