Cropp case continues

Jockey Lisa Cropp should have been dead or at least unconscious given the high level of methamphetamine in her system which a positive drug test reading returned, a toxicology expert has told a racing disciplinary tribunal.

Lisa Cropp Cropp is charged with using methamphetamine after she returned a positive test at Te Rapa on May 7, 2005.

The racing authority alleges Cropp set out to contaminate her urine because she knew it would test positive for methamphetamine.

Cropp has denied ever taking the drug and had unsuccessfully challenged the legality of the test through the courts in the past three years.

Defence lawyer Antony Shaw has maintained the drug testing regime under which she tested positive breached Environmental Science and Research (ESR) standards and the testing regime was unfair, unreasonable and in disarray.

Mr Shaw today presented witnesses before the Judicial Control Authority to give evidence about the standard of the drug testing procedures by the racing body.

Forensic scientist Dr Ronald Couch told the hearing at the Ellerslie Racecourse he had tested 500 samples over the past three years and while he had not tested Cropp’s sample he had reviewed the methods used and the results.

During that time the highest reading for methamphetamine he had seen had been 8,300 nanograms per millilitre.

Cropp’s sample had returned a level of 20,000 to 30,000 nanograms per millilitre.

Dr Couch criticised the forensic scientist, Dr Harold Brown, who had tested Cropp’s original sample.

Dr Brown had told the hearing he did not find the levels of methamphetamine unusually high, which Dr Couch disputed.

Those levels were so high that by the "textbook" she should have been dead or at least unconscious, he said.

Dr Couch said if he had been involved in testing Cropp’s sample he would not have issued the drug testing certificate as he did not consider it valid.

Cropp said she had put her bandaged finger in the urine bottle to remove a hair or piece of straw.

Dr Couch said if that information had been given to the nurse who carried out the test, she should have repeated the test.

If the nurse knew the sample had been contaminated by a finger or hair she should have made a record of it, he said.

An uninformed observer would assume all the standards had been adhered to when the test was carried out, upon reading the certificate, he said.

Racing lawyer Simon Moore challenged Dr Couch’s credentials, and he admitted he did not have much experience with thoroughbred racing and had not been involved in drawing up the drug testing guidelines for the industry.

When Mr Moore asked Dr Couch how many of the businesses and groups he was involved in drug testing were required to dehydrate and fast as part of their job, he replied none but that some people had found it hard to provide a sample.

If the charge is proven Cropp could be suspended from racing for up to 12 months and/or fined up to $NZ10,000.

The hearing continues tomorrow.