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Pulling the Wool – Richard Gasquet, Damien Oliver

I found myself in a situation recently where I noticed a certain individual “pulling the wool” (PTW) over another person’s eyes.  It made me think. This idiom simply means to engage in deceit. I often enjoy a story of two about when this occurs, of course only when it is a victim-less occurrence.

My mind wandered back to a prime example and a personal favourite story of mine.

Richard Gasquet

Firstly, it is pronounced Rish-ard (very French).

The Five Minute Guide Richard

Mr. Gasquet pulled off one of the greatest PTW in the history of mankind. Gasquet tested positive to cocaine after an in-competition test and was facing up to two years out of the tennis circuit. Gasquet had a simple response to the reason for the positive test.

Kissing a woman in a nightclub in Miami on the day before the anti-doping test.


Tennis is a professional sport that has worldwide appeal. The World Anti Doping Authority is a well-respected body responsible for governing drug and doping offences in world sport. Seemingly difficult to deceive, right?

I am as reasonable as the next person but I am not stupid or naïve enough to believe the story that Mr. Gasquet ‘wisely’ thought up was plausible and would sneak past a panel of experts. The rules are set up to eliminate drug use and doping on a strict liability basis. Regardless of fault, if you are caught with the drug in your system you are in severe trouble.

Yes, you picked it. The panel in Gasquet’s hearing accepted this story. The 23 year old was able to convince the strangers of his story and that because his sample showed such small amounts of cocaine that he must have picked it up from a model that was enjoying his company at a nightclub.

Regardless of the rules and the procedure and how good a lawyer a millionaire tennis star can afford, the idea that a young man can pull off this daylight robbery is brilliant. I do not condone illegal substances but I do condone French Models, Nightclubs in Miami and getting a one up on the usually brutal governing bodies around the globe.

Well done Richard!

Damien Oliver

The next example of PTW moves into another sporting sphere, horse racing. Damien Oliver is widely regarded as one of the top Victorian jockeys and perhaps even a world class hoop. His resume speaks for itself and boasts the ‘grand slam’ of racing with wins in the Melbourne Cup, Caulfield Cup, Cox Plate and Golden Slipper. A feat only six other Jockeys have also completed in the history of the sport.

The Five Minute Guide Damien

In a race on one fine Friday evening in Melbourne, Oliver parted with $10,000 and had the money placed onto another horse in a race in which he was riding. Jockeys are expressly prohibited from betting on horse racing to adhere to strict integrity rules that govern racing. The horse he bet on won the race and grossed Oliver $30,000.

Months later the bet was uncovered and an investigation was commenced. Here starts the PTW.

From the time the public were made aware of the allegations to the time the suspension was handed down; Oliver won three Group 1 races, including the Victorian Derby worth $1,500,000. That race alone, with the standard 10% fee for the winning rider, would have been a rather handy collect.

Without an extensive look into the merits of innocent until proven guilty, whether Mr. Oliver needed to be stood down pending the investigation or not, is the point of this story and PTW escapade.

Oliver lawyer-ed his way through the investigation prolonging it for the entire 2012 Spring Carnival, collecting a small fortune along the way for his exquisite riding skills in the most lucrative carnival in Australia.

To add to the PTW, the suspension finally handed down was only ten months. This means that Oliver was permitted to ride again in the lead up to and in the aforementioned Spring Carnival this year. He will be refreshed, rejuvenated and focused to repair his relationships in the industry and ride in the biggest races in Australasia and the world, collecting a handsome sum for his troubles.

Some have suggested ten months is suitable, others believe nothing short of a life ban would have been appropriate given it involves the integrity of the sport. Whichever path you believe appropriate, the moral of the story is that Mr. Oliver has clearly PTW over the Stewards, the Horse Racing industry and the public’s eyes.

Well Done Mr. Oliver.



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