Trainer Liz Doyle questions Turf Club’s integrity

Handler says she was wrongly linked to investigation into animal steroids case

The Co Wexford trainer Liz Doyle has called into question the integrity of the Turf Club, Irish racing's regulatory body.

Doyle, a daughter of the former Fine Gael MEP Avril Doyle, has made the claim on the back of a Turf Club inspection at her stables in March of last year.

A copy of a document purportedly arising from the investigation into the former Department of Agriculture vet, John Hughes, which was shown to her, had her name on it, she says.

Hughes pleaded guilty to five counts of possessing banned animal substances, including an anabolic steroid, in 2013 after customs officials intercepted parcels posted to Hughes from Australia in 2012.

Hughes was ‘warned off’ for five years by the Turf Club last November.

The Turf Club accepts there is no suggestion of any link between Doyle and the use of banned animal medicines, and in a separate newspaper report Hughes has emphatically denied having any association with the trainer.

Original document

In a letter to the

Racing Post

yesterday, Doyle stated: “Subsequent investigation on my part established that my name was nowhere to be found on the original document.”

She added: “Soon afterwards I raised my concerns with a senior Turf Club official and when my mother and I asked for a copy of the document that had been presented to us in the yard, he told us it was ‘in the bin’.”

She added: “This was followed by an official complaint on my part. Although I was offered what I believed to be a letter of apology by a Turf Club security official in the horsebox car park of Clonmel racecourse on June 13, 2014, this matter has led me to seriously question the integrity of the Turf Club.

“After three days of mediation between both parties, I was offered a veiled apology for ‘certain circumstances’ that arose during the inspection.

Complaints

“I also have an issue with the fact that complaints regarding the Turf Club are then investigated and dealt with by its own legal team.

“For the sake of good order and transparency, this flies in the face of natural justice.”

When contacted, Doyle said she was unable to elaborate further on the matter.

In response, the Turf Club’s chief executive Denis Egan said: “Liz Doyle’s yard was inspected on March 25th, 2014, in common with many other trainers at that time.

“It was a joint Turf Club/Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine inspection.

“During the inspection, Ms Doyle answered all the questions that were put to her and her explanations were accepted.

“The Turf Club has never suggested to Ms Doyle that she had any case to answer. This was confirmed in writing to Ms Doyle on April 22nd, 2014.”

Last month there was confirmation that the Turf Club's security chief, Chris Gordon, has started defamation proceedings against the Irish Racehorse Trainers Association.

Brian O'Connor

Brian O'Connor

Brian O'Connor is the racing correspondent of The Irish Times. He also writes the Tipping Point column