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Stewards Lower Threshold For Bicarb Action
Rules regarding stewards "pursuing trainers who breach bicarb levels are set to change early in the new year," reported The Australian. Yesterday's national chairmen of stewards' conference "unanimously agreed to change the policy that required samples to have 2 elevated readings before taking action". Racing Victoria chief steward Terry Bailey confirmed stewards "would now take action if the 1st sample reading was above the allowed threshold". While Bailey acknowledged all cases would turn on their individual merit, he said stewards "believed that if 1 sample was above the legal limit & another just below, a prima facie case had been established". He said if the 2nd sample reading was "way out of kilter" to the 1st, stewards might not take any action, but noted: "All being equal, if the readings are similar & the resting (TCO2) sample is well below, then we would argue there is a prima facie case." Harness racing already adopts a similar policy in relation to bicarb tests & Bailey said "if the proposed policy had been in place, RV stewards would have pursued 2 trainers this year". The newspaper noted the new bicarb policy "could be in play by February 1" & Bailey emphasised: "There is no need for rule changes - the rules are satisfactory - but there is a need to flag a change of policy."