James Ihaka is a Herald reporter based in Hamilton.

Drugs case a mistake, says trainer

Cambridge horsewoman says amino acids bought for a friend and hopes charges will 'die an ugly death'.

Nicola Chilcott says the charges are a "big misunderstanding". Photo / Christine Cornege
Nicola Chilcott says the charges are a "big misunderstanding". Photo / Christine Cornege

A Cambridge horse trainer charged with illegally importing performance-enhancing drugs says the case is "a big misunderstanding".

Nicola Ann Chilcott appeared yesterday in the Hamilton District Court, where she admitted knowingly attempting to import the agricultural compounds amino forte and amino lite.

The 41-year-old harness racing trainer pleaded not guilty to two other charges of attempting to import a number of other agricultural compounds used in the equine industry and five charges of breaching the Agricultural Compounds and Veterinary Medicines Act 1997.

Chilcott's lawyer, Warren Scotter, said her appearance before the court was the result of a misunderstanding.

He said the amino acids were bought for a friend, although she does use the New Zealand equivalent of the products.

"These are the animal equivalent of Lucozade widely used in Australia and bought over the counter," he said.

The prosecution said Chilcott was stopped in March at Christchurch International Airport, where she was found with the compounds in her luggage.

Among them were the drugs ITPP (Myo-Inositol Trispyrophosphate) and TB-500 (Thymosin Beta 4), both performance-enhancing drugs outlawed in the local racing industry.

Chilcott has pleaded not guilty to attempting to import these drugs.

Mike Godber, general manager of the Harness Racing Integrity Unit, confirmed both drugs were prohibited, but said he could not comment on Chilcott's court appearance or whether she would be subject to further investigation.

He confirmed, though, that she was to face the industry's Judicial Control Authority after one of her horses, Precious Mach, tested positive for the painkiller Tramadol following a win at Alexandra Park in April.

He said Chilcott had not had her licence revoked and was free to continue training and racing horses unless the authority ruled otherwise.

Grant Fletcher, the Ministry for Primary Industry's senior regional prosecutor for Canterbury and Westland, said the case was very unusual and was the first prosecution of its type it had taken.

Community magistrate Kathryn Wilson remanded Chilcott on bail to reappear for a status hearing and sentencing on February 1.

Outside the court, Chilcott said she had never used the compounds on any of her horses, nor would she ever.

"It is a big misunderstanding," she said. "Hopefully it will be cleared up and these charges will die an ugly death."

- NZ Herald

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