O'Brien hammers 'clumsy' drug testing procedures

Melbourne trainer Danny O’Brien has described himself as “collateral damage” from a “clumsy” introduction of new drug testing procedures at last Saturday’s Flemington meeting.

Stewards kept The New Boy on Kutchinsky on track at Flemington before following the pair back to O’Brien’s on-course stables to conduct further tests in a new procedure Racing Victoria’s Manager of Integrity Services Dayle Brown said was aimed at “being unpredictable”.

Drug tests on the pair came back negative but O’Brien told Radio Sport National the media coverage of last Saturday’s events contributed to unnecessary stress on him and the stable’s owners.

“I thought it was really clumsy,” O’Brien said. “Perhaps is they had brought all of the racing journalists up to speed on what the practices were going forward, it mightn’t have been such a drama on Saturday.

“The way the message came out, it was all about ‘stable raid’ and horses being impounded and ‘stable under scrutiny’, no-one wants to hear it about them and the owners don’t want to hear it.

“I spent most of Sunday trying to explain it and say ‘this is the way RVL are going forward to handle these tests’ and I said the tests will be fine. I don’t think they should have had to go through that process.”

O’Brien said he welcomed any drug testing procedures but was critical of RV stewards for releasing details of the tests to the press. The trainer said drug tests should be kept private unless a urine sample tests positive to banned substances in order to avoid a repeat of last Saturday’s events.

“I think it needs to be thought through a lot better,” O’Brien said. “I think really with testing, it has to be completely anonymous. You can’t be throwing out, ‘oh we’re holding this horse back and doing this’ because it just starts speculation.

“One test in 10,000, or whatever it is, is significant in that it is a positive. The other ones really don’t need to be in the public arena.

“I understand that they are coming up with new strategies all the time and that was what last weekend was about but the way it is implemented and everything going forward will depend on how successful it is.

“We don’t want innocent people to be collateral damage because they have brought a new testing regime in and I certainly was that person on the weekend.”