There is a black cloud still hanging over New Zealand harness racing amid the allegations of race fixing that shocked the industry one month ago.
We have received several letters and emails from people angry over what has been alleged and the lack of information over if anyone has been charged and if so what they have been charged for.
One of the letters we received sums up what many in the industry are feeling over this issue:
The RIU has badly failed to protect the integrity image of an Industry that funds it to exist.
One of the worst allegations in the world of gambling is the word ‘fixed’ but unfortunately whether it’s cricket, tennis, boxing, horse racing or any other sport where the human element can predetermine the final result it does happen. When a punter finds out that a match or race result was fixed for those with the inside information to prosper from and he has lost his money his future confidence to bet on that sport will be low. Racing doesn’t need sensational headlines to taint public confidence that the racing industry promotes as clean and well regulated.
The media story on February 14th stating ‘police and racing integrity unit investigating allegations of race fixing’ sent shockwaves throughout the racing industry. An industry that survives on revenue from gambling which has lost its pre-1980’s dominance to compete for the gambling dollar against casino’s and lotto.
Internet forms of gambling and regulations are adhered to by it’s industry participants and if they don’t they are dealt with accordingly. The media story advised that the NZ Racing Industry’s integrity unit have started an investigation into allegations of race fixing. Claims of multiple harness races were fixed by industry participants for the benefit of a group of gamblers. Mike Godber said he could not comment on whether the unit was investigating. However sources have confirmed the investigation is under way but in its early stages.
Any member of the public reading that story and not having any Industry knowledge would have no reason to doubt the validity of the above story.
For me knowing the industry this story does raise serious concerns but these concerns should be
more worrying for all those involved in harness racing such as owners, trainers, drivers, HRNZ staff, Club and even punters. The story implicates that any harness participant could be involved in these allegations which has the potential to financially harm an industry that is currently struggling compared to previous years.
The story doesn’t provide enough substance to provide a clear picture as to what and who could be involved so as we have seen reading online forums people theorise as to what has happened. The biggest losers are the drivers as the end result requires their services for a race fix to transpire.
The RIU is charged with managing the integrity of NZ Racing.
All harness participants’ integrity now are under suspicion and the General Manager won’t comment on whether the RIU is investigating. Every harness participant should be demanding that the RIU is investigating as everyone’s integrity is currently under question. If they are not investigating they are not carrying out their duties.
The sole purpose of the RIU is to serve the racing industry and when one code is having its integrity questioned they must be seen to be supporting by following up with concerns and it which will also show the public that you are acting on integrity issues.
The integrity of harness racing has had a major implication made and the RIU won’t comment on whether they are investigating? A couple of people have said to me they are not commenting because they want it to disappear, can you blame them for that analogy because why else would you not confirm either way.
It’s a very simple question and people deserve an answer yes or no not a riddle.
Following the initial story The Informant wrote “racing industry officials are mystified by allegations that police and the RIU are investigating race fixing”.
Mike Godber said that it is the policy of police and the RIU to neither confirm or deny whether any investigations were under way. It’s an integrity issue which you owe to those it is harming publicly to confirm either way. “This is a position we maintain as a matter of policy.” Your policy needs some serious revamping when you state that the newspaper article is based on innuendo and rumour with no names or substance just a source that’s one reason why you confirm one way or the other Mr Godber by not advising that an investigation is underway you are fuelling the innuendo and rumours which doesn’t help the overall integrity of harness racing.
So racing officials are mystified by the allegations The Informant quotes so to help dispel these innuendo’s and rumours you get hold of the reporter and get a retraction from his story that the police and the RIU are investigating this so called race fixing scandal.
Straight away the allegations look ill founded as the source has said investigations are under way when in fact racing officials state they knew nothing although just to confuse everyone the RIU won’t back up the racing officials claims ether way regarding an enquiry. The rumour mill is now away again.
That was a dangerous statement as once the public read that it was been investigated they think there must be some truth to it. On behalf of every harness participant you request all information that was given to the reporter and investigate it fully, then if no retraction or details are supplied of the supposed race fixing you advise the media you couldn’t investigate as the relevant information wasn’t supplied then the public will consider there can’t be any truth to it as the information wasn’t handed over.
The concerning part for me is that Mr Godber says the article is based on innuendo and rumour with no names or substance just a source. An integrity unit and you won’t confirm or deny the matter is been investigated. The RIU has an anonymous phone line to report any integrity issues. Anonymous means no names or substance just a source so your saying you won’t confirm if a story basically driven by an anonymous source and read by thousands is been investigated but your advising people to ring the anonymous phone line basically giving information like the paper received and you will investigate. Can you confirm or deny that the RIU Investigate every call made anonymously? Why play games with the Industry’s integrity by saying that you can’t confirm or deny that an investigation is underway. To make that comment look laughable please explain exactly how the RIU came to the conclusion that the article is based on innuendo and rumour which obviously could only be the end result from conducting an investigation on the matter. Just remind yourself the RIU isn’t bigger than the Racing Industry it’s there to serve it and the Industry expects straight answers just like they expect from all those involved.
If you are an industry participant in harness racing especially in Canterbury and are not involved in any race fixing you should consider ringing the RIU and demand to know if an investigation is either underway and if not you want one started now as your integrity is currently under a cloud like everyone’s else and the future support by any of the public who currently bet on harness racing is going to suffer until the matter is resolved.
Finally Mr Goodber could you please advise if the reply from a trainer or driver facing a racing charge to the RIU is an acceptable response when given as “I can’t confirm or deny”. That type of reply could be considered as one of contempt which is a bad look from a unit who represents integrity.
Yes the story was badly reported but the response from the RIU in handling the matter reflected a lot worse and showed a serious lack of knowledge on how to adequately address the situation for the industry that it represents.
We can only hope that this inquiry gets resolved quickly and does not just die a slow death that leaves a bad taste in the mouths of our drivers. People do not easily forget issues of this nature and to tarnish New Zealand’s harness racing drivers without rapidly releasing a statement either charging someone or eliminating them from any wrongdoing is not a good look.
Courtesy of Harnesslink Media