Sam Kavanagh was hit hard with a nine year and three month ban as a result of a long time inquiry into a cobalt allegation found back after he had won the Gosford Cup at the beginning of the year in January.
One of the horses in his care, Midsummer Sun, was found to have large amounts of cobalt in her blood stream after a test that disqualified the horse from being able to competitively race. Cobalt has been used in both humans and animals to increase endurance and athletic performance, and is banned in most areas since it's a way to boost a horse's abilities, and is seen as a form of cheating. Cobalt is commonly used over other forms of performance enhancing supplements because it's cheap, easy to obtain, and has a short detection window. The detection window is about four to six hours, after which it can be nearly impossible for drug tests to filter it out.
Sam Kavanagh had 24 charges looked into, with 23 of them coming out as guilty offenses. These charges resulted from a string of investigations that pulled up vet records and underworld figures. Kavanagh was also found to be using caffeine, xenon gas, and corticosteroid in his horses as well. Since the incident with Midsummer Sun, the young trainer has been the centre of attention for the horse racing world and it has taken eight months for the findings to finally surface.
Kavanagh had his trainer's license suspended back on May 20, 2015 and will not be eligible to train again until August 20, 2024. He does have the opportunity to appeal the decision, and there's always the chance that his time could be reduced.
Kavanagh's legal team has been arguing that he should be given a second chance, being forgiven for the charges. They've used prominent businessman Gerry Harvey as motivation to try and push for the charges to be dropped. It's also been a battle as to how the drugs were obtained, as Sam Kavanagh claims that he received a supplement called “vitamin complex” from Doctor Tom Brennan with the Flemington Equine Clinic. These drugs were found to contain high amounts of cobalt, while Brennan has claimed that he had no knowledge about the ingredients of the drugs and didn't realize that they contained a banned substance.
Dr. Brennan received a ban of six years for 12 charges placed against him, which will expire on August 1, 2012. These charges result not only from the case with Kavanagh, but from offering the drugs to trainers Mark Kavanagh and Danny O'Brien. Brennan has taken his frustration to the popular social media platform Twitter, in which he has suggested that he will be appealing the decision:
“6 years….. See you in court Ray….”
Many others that were involved with giving the dosage to the horses have also been charged, receiving small bans for their offenses that range from one to three years each.