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RV chairman backs stewards
Mike Hedge
06:23 AEST Wed Nov 21 2012

Victorian racing authorities have defended their failure to stand down Damien Oliver while an investigation proceeded into a $10,000 bet he placed which has resulted in a 10-month ban for the jockey.

Racing Victoria chairman Michael Duffy said such action would have jeopardised the case against Oliver.

"The investigators formed the view that its best prospects of securing a certain conviction was to obtain an admission of guilt from Mr Oliver," Duffy said.

"Accordingly, the option of standing Mr Oliver down prior to the laying of charges was not pursued .... on the basis that this would have most likely jeopardised an admission being obtained which would be admissible in any stewards inquiry.

The authorities came in for harsh criticism for allowing Oliver to ride while the investigation proceeded.

Their failure to act allowed the eight-time Victorian champion rider to land three Group One winners during the spring carnival which ended last Saturday.

Duffy also commended the Investigating Committee which built the case against Oliver for resisting calls to make public statements on the progress and nature of their inquiries.

He said a chronology of events released on Tuesday following the handing down of a 10 month ban against Oliver made it clear why no public commentary was possible.

The chronology reveals that Oliver had engaged in a "without prejudice" conference with the Investigating Committee which precluded any public comment.

Oliver's breaches of a "fundamental" rule of racing drew sharp criticism from the Victorian Jockeys Association (VJA) which expressed "disappointment and concern" at the rider's admissions.

"For his mistake Damien Oliver will pay a heavy price, both personally and professionally," said VJA executive officer Des O'Keeffe.

"There's no doubt Damien Oliver will be his own harshest critic in the days and months ahead and we will continue to offer him support."

O'Keeffe said industry leaders must acknowledge the failure to properly educate and counsel riders in relation to why the rules preclude them from betting.

"Jockeys need to understand that if they act in a manner that undermines confidence in the integrity of the sport, it is intolerable," he said.

"Repercussions from this poor decision making will flow on to owners, trainers, breeders, officials and the general public who support racing."