A prominent horse trainer has appeared in court charged with trying to import what has been described as one of the kingpins of horse doping drugs.
Nicola Chilcott denies using any illegal substances, including myo-inositol trispyrophosphate, otherwise known as ITPP.
With more than 500 wins to her name Chilcott is classed as a female pioneer in the harness racing industry. She has earned more than $3 million in prize money over her career
But the horse trainer stands accused of trying to smuggle in a horse doping agent. She has pleaded not guilty to seven of the eight charges.
The Ministry for Primary Industries alleges the 41-year-old bought the performance enhancing drug ITPP from the Ukraine. It never arrived.
"I think it's just been a really big misunderstanding to be honest...I have never and would never use illegal substances on my horses," Chilcott said.
ONE News believes it is the first time someone has been charged in New Zealand in relation to the ITPP which is banned worldwide. The drug is prohibited because it increases the oxygen in the blood which increases the horse's stamina.
"It is similar to EPO or anabolic steroids so it is up there as a drug which is of concern to racing authorities around the world," Mike Godber from the Racing Integrity Board said.
"It's really asking their bodies...to do more than they otherwise would be capable of doing."
Chilcott is also facing charges of attempting to import various medicines for animals from Australia and today she admitted bringing in one of those substances. Her lawyer indicated to the court it was low level, saying "the product in question is really no more than animal equivalent of Lucozade".
Chilcott is due back in court in February.