Flemington Trainers Danny O’Brien and Mark Kavanagh have been given hefty bans as the The Racing Appeals and Disciplinary Board delivered its verdict on the cobalt scandal on Wednesday. Both trainers immediately lodged appeals at the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal.
These are two major trainers and their penalties are severe and potentially career-ending. Kavanagh won a Melbourne Cup in 2009 with Shocking while O'Brien has won a Caulfield Cup and Cox Plate.
O'Brien had been charged with cobalt administration of four of his horses - Bullpit, Caravan Rolls On, Bondeiger and De Little Engine. Kavanagh faced one administration charge relating to his horse Magicool.
Kavanagh has been handed a three year ban while the penalty for O'Brien is four years. The trainers have always stated they did not know cobalt was being administered to their horses.
Cobalt is a blood-doping agent which can help produce more red blood cells to carry oxygen through the bloodstream. This potentially allows better athletic performance without the onset of fatigue.
Cobalt can occur naturally in a horse, which is why Racing Victoria put a threshold in place in April 2014. But elevated levels were found during 2015 in the urine of certain horses in some big name stables.
Both O'Brien and Kavanagh have runners at Geelong on Wednesday. It is unclear whether they will be allowed to run. O'Brien's first runner is an unraced filly which just happens to be named "Shampion".