Sport Racing Leading horse trainers banned
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Leading horse trainers banned

ABC
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Danny O’Brien and Mark Kavanagh have been banned for four years and three years respectively for administering cobalt to horses for performance-enhancing purposes.

Both O’Brien and Kavanagh faced mandatory minimum three-year bans after being found guilty of doping by the Racing and Appeals Disciplinary Board (RAD) in December.

Veterinarian Dr Tom Brennan was banned for five years.

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The trainers will appeal against the decision at the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT).

O’Brien said they would take the case to what he described as an “adult court”.

“We’re on our way now into VCAT to get a stay of proceedings pending an appeal date,” he told reporters after the hearing.

At a hearing on Tuesday, their lawyer likened the procedure to the Salem witch trials.

Four of O’Brien’s horses and one of Kavanagh’s recorded excessive cobalt levels in races in 2014.

The trainers have always maintained they did not know cobalt was being administered to their horses.

Kavanagh, O’Brien join two other banned trainers

Cobalt has been compared to the performance-enhancing drug EPO because it can boost the number of red blood cells and improve a horse’s endurance.

Kavanagh and O’Brien are two of the biggest names in Australian racing, with Kavanagh winning the 2009 Melbourne Cup with Shocking.

Both men have trained Cox Plate winners and O’Brien also won the 2007 Caulfield Cup with Master O’Reilly.

The period of disqualification officially begins next week.

High-profile trainer Peter Moody is also facing cobalt-related charges and pleaded not guilty in December.

His case will resume next month.

Two other trainers, Lee and Shannon Hope, were found guilty in November of administering cobalt to their horses and banned for three and five years respectively.

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