M'boro hotel owner cleared of race horse doping

A MARYBOROUGH hotel owner has been cleared of using a banned substance to improve the performance of one of his race horses.

Leigh Wanless, owner of the Westside Tavern, Aussie Hotel and Granville Tavern, said it had been a tough couple of years since the drug test was first carried out.

The case was heard before the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal after the Queensland Racing Integrity Commission disqualified Mr Wanless' licence for 12 months - an order that started in April 2018.

However, the QCAT hearing set aside the decision to disqualify Mr Wanless.

The horse, named Mista Busy, was tested after the thoroughbred won the three-year-old maiden 1110 metres on February 16, 2017, in Rockhampton.

After the race, a sample of the horse's urine was collected by Jacqui Summers, a samples collection officer, for analysis.

Mista Busy was supervised on the day by Mr Wanless' son, James.

Part of the sample was analysed by the Racing Science Centre, and it tested positive for cobalt in excess of 200 micrograms per litre.

Cobalt is a prohibited substance at concentrations in excess of 100 micrograms per litre.

Both Mr Wanless and his son submitted statutory declarations in regards to the sample, with James raising concerns about the way the sample was taken.

James said Ms Summers washed out the collection bowl with control solution but did not clean the two sample collection bottles in the same way.

Ms Summers testified that the sample had been taken correctly.

However, the tribunal accepted James' version of events.

"Ms Summers did not have any recollection of the actual swab, the affidavit she affirmed was at best misleading and it was only at the hearing that she confirmed that what was written was what she would have done," the decision read.

"I prefer the evidence of James Wanless which is an actual recollection of the events of the day."

The decision said the control solution played a very important role in the integrity of the sampling and analytical process. Mr Wanless said the case "should never have got that far" after two years of fighting to clear his name.

"It stopped me from buying horses for two years," he said.

"We had to go through all the rigmarole."

From a stable of 20 horses, he had reduced that number to four during the period of his disqualification, Mr Wanless said.

"It puts you back a couple of years, we've had to get up and get going again," he said.

"Getting your name cleared does make you feel better."