Slow Decay of Cobalt Leaves O’Brien and Kavanagh Half Alive

Our science books tell us that the half-life of uranium is about 4.5 billion years, that of the uranium isotope U-235 about 700 million years and U-234 a mere 25 thousand years.

Our vast repository of chemistry minutiae from our school days tells us that the element cobalt is not radioactive, but there is a radioactive isotope called Cobalt-60 that has a half-life of 5.27 years.

All three of those time spans seem blissfully short compared to the length of time it is taking to decide the fates of thoroughbred trainers Danny O’Brien and Mark Cavanaugh.

Apparently, the half-life of the Victorian Civil Appeals Tribunal (VCAT) has no known end.

The two trainers have what we believe to be the longest running cobalt case in the history of racing, even though, according to some, the benefit of the substance has not been conclusively established, so those who have used it to aid muscle recovery in their horses might be achieving only a placebo effect.

VCAT President Justice Greg Garde has now informed that he has reserved his decision and that it will not be made public until he is good and ready.

We thought we had buried O’Brien and Kavanagh back in 2014. The two were suspended for four and three years, respectively, but Garde overturned the suspension levied by the Racing Appeals and DisciplinaryBoard.

Gardes’s opinion is that while the urine testing that showed four of O’Brien’s and one of Kavanagh’s gallopers with cobalt urine levels beyond those permissible, the trainers were not aware of cobalt being administered to their horses.

Damian Sheales, a representative for the two trainers, a lawyer we assume, said in the AAP, “There will always be a stain on them and their businesses.”

Racing Victoria representative Jeff Gleeson, expressed the opposing view. “To operate as a trainer in Victoria and Australia is a privilege,” he said.”Obligations come with that privilege.”

For the sakes of O’Brien and Kavanagh, we sincerely hope the final decision is not issued posthumously.

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