The Queensland-based Liam Birchley, one of eight persons including four trainers charged in the Aquanita dopping scandal, will be allowed to continue training in Queensland pending the outcome of the case, according to Racing.com. The decision by Queensland racing authorities came the day after texts were leaked to and published by Melbourne newspaper the Herald Sun where Birchley and fellow Aquanita trainer Robert Smerdon were corroborating with former Aquanita employee Greg Nelligan to administer horses a bicarbonate immediately pre-race. Smerdon and trainer Stuart Webb have stood down from training, while Tony Vasil continues to train with winnings withheld by Racing Victoria until the case concludes.
“In relation to the decision about whether Mr. Birchley should be allowed to continue to train in Queensland, senior Thoroughbred stewarding staff have reviewed the evidence and they have come to the view that Mr Birchley should be allowed to continue to train here for the time being, but it remains a fluid situation,” Queensland Racing Integrity Commissioner Ross Barnett told Racing.com. “That decision was based in part on the fact that there has been no offence detected in Queensland. Mr. Birchley retains the presumption of innocence and he has declared he'll be pleading not guilty to all charges. Queensland stewards also took into account the fact that Mr Birchley's disciplinary history in Queensland does not include any offences of a similar nature in this state. I'd also add that at this stage, there is no information that any races in Queensland have been compromised but for the integrity of the sport across the country, the information that is coming to light is very concerning.”