Insights / News
Insights / News
The British Horseracing Authority instructed Head of the Sports Law Team, Louis Weston, to act on their behalf at the hearing of Neil Waggot and Stephen Walker, two stable hands employed by Newcastle Racecourse. The hearing centred around alleged doping of horses in 2018.
Ladies First was a favourite to win at Newcastle but was well beaten by 22 lengths and later tested positive for Timolol, a beta blocker. CCTV footage showed Waggot and Walker acting suspiciously and appearing to administer something to the horse, when they should not have been in the vicinity at all.
The two men were found guilty of having given the horse a prohibited substance and disqualified for 10 years.
Under strict liability rules in 2018, the trainer would be held liable for a failed dope test. However, the trainer’s solicitor spoke of security concerns, saying that neither the racecourse nor BHA appeared to have had oversight of the men. However, acting on behalf of the BHA, Louis denied responsibility for the security breach, saying:
“The BHA is not the employer here. Whilst I understand the concern, to suggest the BHA has to carry out background checks on everyone employed by every racecourse has obvious difficulties. Mr Waggot and Mr Walker had a role that allowed them to do tasks at the stables. It wasn’t two punters off the street wandering in. It is a great shame and a great sadness that the human condition ends with some people abusing rights and the privileges they enjoy to do bad things. But that does not always mean that it is the BHA’s fault and I’m not here to let it be pinned on the BHA that they are responsible for what Mr Waggot and Mr Walker did. They are not.”
The panel concluded that is was obliged to issue a financial penalty to the trainer under the 2018 rules even though it accepted that he was not at fault and therefore issued a fine of £0.01. The horse was disqualified.
Louis Weston is Head of the Sports Law Team at Outer Temple. He is a leading junior and has specialised in sports law for over 12 years. Louis has a successful and established practice in Sports Regulation, Governance, Disciplinary Cases, Safeguarding and Anti-Doping, acting and advising Sports Governing Bodies and Players in the UK, Europe, the Middle East and Asia.
Louis has appeared in many of the leading cases in the UK involving corruption in sport and has acted for and advised national and international sports regulatory bodies across a range of sports. Louis acts for sports governing bodies, athletes and their representatives in anti-doping, match fixing and corruption and in on field disputes and appeals as well as in civil actions arising out of sport including commercial and personal injury disputes.
He advises sports governing bodies in the UK and internationally on their governance the regulation of sport and sporting disputes and drafts and advises on the structure of rules and regulations and the structure and methods of policing sports related corruption.