Almost half of the 22 Queensland greyhound trainers banned for life over the live baiting scandal have had their penalties dramatically cut in a shock downgrade made by the Racing Disciplinary Board.
Online reports state that nine trainers have had their penalties dropped on appeal to periods of between five and 10 years.
Yahoo7 understands that the trainers appealed the original ban decision through the Racing Disciplinary Board who elected to reduce their sentences to varying levels.
Of the nine trainers it’s reported four were found to have engaged in the outlawed practice of live baiting according to online reports.
Racing Queensland boss, Ian Hall stated that the downgrades were the decisions of an independent appeals board, as the Racing Disciplinary Board (RDB) acts independently to Racing Queensland.
Racing Queensland told Yahoo7 they reviewed hundreds of hours of video footage in relation to live baiting scandal that reduced the industry to its knees since the story first surfaced last year.
A spokesperson for Racing Queensland stated: "Over the past 12 months, Racing Queensland has implemented a range of initiatives aimed at enforcing change on the topic of animal welfare and has witnessed a genuine desire among participants to rid the sport of animal cruelty."
Racing Queensland also confirmed to Yahoo7 that since the scandal broke they have increased kennel inspections - conducting over 700 in the past 12 months alone.
They also confirmed to Yahoo7 that a breeding rule change has been implemented aimed at improving the health and welfare of breeding females, and to minimise the number of greyhound puppies bred in addition to including the abolition of the QGreys breeding scheme.
Mr Hall refused to rule out the possibility live baiting was still going on in the industry.
However Animal Liberation Queensland labelled the downgrades as “unacceptable,” according to the Brisbane Times.
Last week disgraced Queensland greyhound trainer Tom Noble has admitted live baiting but says "everyone was doing it" 10 years ago.
Noble, 69, pleaded guilty to 15 serious animal cruelty charges in Ipswich Magistrates Court.
The veteran trainer was one of 37 people charged after the ABC's Four Corners expose on the widespread use of live baiting in the greyhound racing industry.
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Graphic footage surfaced showing baiting of live piglets and rabbits, within the greyhound industry shocked viewers at the time the expose aired.
The disgraced trainers faced a total of 141 charges.
82 of those charges were for serious animal cruelty.
Noble has openly admitted using live piglets as bait for his dogs and says it was commonplace a decade ago.
"Looking back 10 years ago, there probably was not one track in Queensland that wasn't live baiting," he told The Courier-Mail.
"In the greyhound industry, I don't think anybody at some stage hasn't done something wrong."
"You regret it now. It's just a thing you've been brought up with."
Noble, was filmed taking a baby possum from its mother so the mother could be used for live baiting.
The trainer has since been banned from tracks for life and says he's now resigned to watching races on TV.
He will face sentencing in coming months, with each charge carrying a maximum seven years' jail time.
"We're pleased he has decided to take responsibility for his actions," RSPCA Queensland chief executive Mark Townend said in a statement.
In a statement to Yahoo7 Queensland Racing stated: "From the moment the vile act of live baiting was uncovered, Racing Queensland commenced a program to eradicate the practice and address issues around animal welfare in greyhound racing."
"Racing Queensland has been working closely with the industry to enforce change on the topic of animal welfare and has witnessed a genuine desire among participants to rid the sport of animal cruelty."
News break – February 16