Stawell trainers Terry and Karina O'Sullivan have been disqualified from racing for three and five years respectively on cobalt-related charges.
Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal senior member Anna Dea handed down mandatory three-year bans to both trainers for each of the three separate charges.
The charges relate to elevated cobalt readings recorded in two different horses on three occasions. The A-sample of all three breaches returned readings of 600 micrograms per litre of urine - three times the then legal limit.
Karina O'Sullivan's bans are to be served part-concurrently over five years, while Terry's bans will be served concurrently over three years, with Dea acknowledging a five-year ban would impact the 71-year-old's chances of training again.
The disqualifications will begin on April 16 and both trainers have the option to appeal the bans.
In November 2018, the Racing Appeals and Disciplinary Board found the father-daughter duo guilty of administering cobalt above the permitted threshold.
The trainers were banned for a year at the time, based on elevated readings that were recorded in Darragh (twice) and Gold A Plenty in 2015 and 2016.
The O'Sullivans lodged an appeal with VCAT the day after the guilty verdict and were granted a stay of proceedings to continue training their horses while they appealed the ban.
In December 2019, VCAT senior member Anna Dea found the three cobalt breaches proven and said: "the only probable explanation that is consistent with the evidence is that the trainers administered or caused the cobalt to be administered."
"The only explanation for the trainers' conduct was that it was an attempt at blood doping with the intention of achieving an unfair advantage," she concluded.
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Since the initial guilty verdict and throughout the appeals process both trainers vehemently denied administering cobalt to their horses, but offered no explanations for the elevated readings.
"We most definitely have never used cobalt in any way shape or form with our horses," Terry O'Sullivan told Australian Community Media in December last year.
Terry O'Sullivan will not be eligible to reapply for his licence until April 2023, while Karina O'Sullivan can reapply in April 2025.
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