On 23 July 2020, the Victorian Racing Tribunal (VRT) considered charges issued by Harness Racing Victoria (HRV) Stewards against former licensed trainer-driver Rod Weightman in respect of inquiries and investigations conducted by HRV Stewards in 2008 that relate to the possession and supply of Aranesp (EPO) to licensed person Clinton Hall.
Rod Weightman failed to attend three separate inquiries in 2008, with the third and final inquiry resulting in the HRV Stewards directing that he be warned off from 27 October 2008. The warning off, which subjected Mr Weightman to the same restrictions as a disqualified person, was ordered to remain in place until Mr Weightman answered the respective charges.
In 2020, Mr Weightman was issued with 6 charges under Australian Harness Racing Rules (AHRR) 187(1), 194, 245 and 259(1)(a).
Charges 1, 2 and 3 were issued under AHRR 187(1) which states:
A person who is directed to do so by the Stewards shall attend an inquiry
or investigation convened or conducted by them.
These charges relate to Mr Weightman’s failure to attend inquiries convened by the HRV Stewards on 30 June 2008, 4 August 2008 and 27 October 2008.
Charge 4 was issued under AHRR 194, which stated at the time:
A person who holds or controls drugs unlawfully or which are unlabelled or without a supporting
prescription is, if those drugs are capable of being administered to a horse, guilty of an offence.
This charge related to Mr Weightman procuring and controlling the Schedule 4 substance Aranesp (EPO) without a supporting prescription.
Charge 5 was issued under AHRR 245, which states:
A person shall not direct persuade, encourage or assist anyone to breach these rules,
or otherwise engage in an improper practice.
This charge related to Mr Weightman supplying Aranesp (EPO) to licensed person Clinton Hall, and in doing so assisted him in breaching the AHRR.
Charge 6 was issued under AHRR 259(1)(a), which states:
A disqualified person or a person whose name appears in the current list of disqualifications published
or adopted by a recognised harness racing authority or a person warned off cannot do any of the
(a) associate or communicate with persons connected to the harness racing industry for
purposes related to that industry
This charge was in relation to Mr Weightman’s association with licensed person Clinton Hall for the supply of Aranesp (EPO) to be used on harness racing horses, while Mr Weightman was subject to a period of disqualification resulting from a 2004 harness racing inquiry.
Rod Weightman pleaded guilty to all charges before submissions on penalty were heard from the HRV Stewards and Mr Weightman.
Charges 1 to 3 - 6 months Disqualification on each charge (to be served concurrently)
Charge 4 - 6 years Disqualification
Charge 5 - 6 months Disqualification
Charge 6 - 6 months Disqualification
The VRT ordered that the commencement of the total penalty of 7 years and 6 months disqualification be backdated to 27 October 2008, the start of the warning off period.
VRT Panel: Judge John Bowman (Chairman) and Member Josh Bornstein
The written decisions of the VRT can be found here.
(Please note that VRT Decisions will generally be published within 7-10 days of the date of hearing)