PROMINENT Wodonga trainer Brian Cox has been slapped with a three-and-a-half year disqualification from racing.
Cox had been found guilty on November 2 of four charges in relation to “the administration of an anabolic androgenic steroid to two horses on two separate occasions” after submitting a plea of not guilty to stewards.
He pleaded guilty to possession of Nitrotain, and to manhandling stewards when they attended his stable in March.
Cox was also found guilty of providing false and misleading evidence.
The Victorian Racing Appeals and Disciplinary Board strongly condemned Cox’s actions in handing down his punishment on Tuesday afternoon.
“The deliberate administration of a prohibited substance strikes at the very heart of the integrity of racing and has the potential to be extremely damaging to its image,” the verdict read.
“A message should be sent to all racing participants that this behaviour will not be tolerated and is to be denounced.
“The behaviour of Mr Cox was a long way short of what is expected from any licensed trainer, much less one of decades of experience and a leader in his region.”
Veterinarian Dr Robert Fielding was fined $20,000 after being found guilty of dishonest and improper actions, relating to supplying Nitrotain to Cox.
Fielding escaped being warned off thanks to his “long, illustrious and blameless record”, his desire to “wind down”, as well as numerous character references, which came from the likes of former federal Attorney-General Michael Duffy and former Victorian MP for Benalla Bill Sykes.
The behaviour of Mr Cox was a long way short of what is expected from any licensed trainer.