Vet at centre of doping probes has underworld links   Leave a comment

Vet at centre of doping probes has underworld links
July 30, 2015 – 1:01AM

Nick McKenzie, Richard Baker, Pat Bartley

Trainers claim vet cannot be trusted
A prominent Melbourne vet is allegedly at the centre of the doping scandal gripping the Australian racing industry, and is suspected of providing banned substances to several figures including underworld identities.

The vet, Dr Adam Matthews, is strongly suspected by racing authorities across Australia of being the “Stephen Dank” of the equine world, having been accused of supplying supplements that he insists are legal but which have later been the subject of major doping inquiries.

Dr Matthews has faced no charges from stewards, highlighting the struggle of authorities to deal with vets suspected to have gone rogue.

Fairfax Media can also reveal that Racing Minister Martin Pakula has been warned that Victorian harness racing is exposed to doping, with a recent government commissioned report stating that the “evident downsizing of its [harness racing] integrity functions falls short of what is expected by government and the industry”.

Mr Pakula told Fairfax Media last night that he had commissioned a former chief executive of British horse racing, Paul Bittar, to reform Victoria’s racing integrity structure across the three racing codes.

Fairfax Media can reveal that Dr Matthews has been named by his former colleague, Dr Tom Brennan, as supplying the horse supplements which led to positive tests for the banned substance cobalt in horses trained by top trainers Mark Kavanagh and Danny O’Brien.

Cobalt is banned because it is suspected of enhancing horses’ performance.

Dr Brennan has alleged that Dr Matthews provided him the supplements with an assurance they were safe to use, although Dr Matthews denies any wrongdoing. Dr Brennan has been charged and suspended by stewards in connection with the cobalt accusation.

Dr Matthews formerly worked at Flemington Equine and is close to leading racing figures across Australia. He is also is closely linked to trainer Craig Demmler, who was recently suspended for cobalt use and who reportedly paid Dr Matthews for supplements via the vet’s TAB account.

Dr Matthews is also suspected of supplying supplements to underworld and racing figure John “Bulldog” Nicholson, whose son, harness racing trainer Rhys Nicholson, was suspended in 2014 for cobalt use.

John Nicholson, who was charged with deception, theft and firearms after a race fixing inquiry in 2004, told Fairfax Media that Dr Matthews had previously worked for him for five years. But Mr Nicholson denied any involvement in doping and said he knew “nothing about … any cobalt.”

Police documents describe John Nicholson as a “high risk offender” entrenched in Melbourne’s underworld.

Sources have also confirmed that Dr Matthews has also been betting tens of thousands of dollars with underworld boss and racing identity Paul Sequenzia, who Dr Matthews has also worked for as an equine vet and who is closely linked to John Nicholson.

Police documents state that Mr Sequenzia was responsible for doping the horse Em Maguane, leading to Australian racing’s first EPO positive test in 2009.

Dr Matthews was interviewed by harness racing stewards investigating the EPO case, but was not charged by stewards. There is no suggestion he provided the EPO to Em Maguane, although Dr Matthews’ association with Mr Sequenzia raises serious integrity questions given Mr Sequenzia’s alleged doping and organised crime activities.

Mr Sequenzia and Mr Nicholson are both criminals described in confidential police reports as having involvement in the “fixing of racing” and serious organised crime and have met Dr Matthews on numerous occasions.

It is understood these meetings were linked to Dr Matthews betting activities and took place at a TAB near Essendon airport.

Mr Sequenzia and Mr Nicholson have recently been chasing Dr Matthews over a disputed $100,000 gambling debt.

Dr Matthews has previously been in a harness racing horse syndicate with John Nicholson.

In a statement, Dr Matthew’s lawyer, Nicole Spicer, said she had “put each and every allegation to Adam Matthews and he denies each and every allegation”.

In a 2014 racing inquiry, another trainer who used Dr Matthews as his vet, Wez Hunter, was fined after a prohibited substance was found in his horse on race day.

The inquiry heard that Dr Matthews administered the prohibited drug, allowing only three days for it to leave the horse’s system prior to race day – a period Racing Victoria’s vet said was “risky” and “precarious.”

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Posted July 30, 2015 by belesprit09 in Uncategorized

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