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Friday 13, Feb 2015

  Maryland Horse Trainers Suspended For Doping Violations

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Three horse trainers have been suspended for doping violations, according to an announcement by Maryland racing officials. The suspensions include a ban of more than a year for Pimlico-based Hector Garcia and a 120-day ban for Scott Lake, who is behind one of the most successful barns at Laurel Park.

A. Ferris Allen received the lightest penalty — a $1,000 fine and a 30-day ban with 15 days suspended if he does not commit another violation over the next three years because of his relatively clean record and testimony from his veterinarian in reducing the suspension. The suspended trainer has filed an appeal with the Maryland Racing Commission.

J. Mike Hopkins, the executive director of the commission, said Ferris Allen’s vet had remarked that they thought they were using it in the proper way, about 35 days out of the race. Hopkins added the Maryland Racing Commission adopted rules that treated any finding of an anabolic steroid in the blood as a violation, a so-called “zero-tolerance” rule, in 2013. Anabolic steroids were not regulated in racing before 2010.

Garcia received the harshest penalty as he had three horses test positive for Stanozolol and one for Xylazine between early December and mid-January. Garcia faces suspensions for each violation and an additional suspension as he accumulated 10 medical violation points under a system designed to punish repeat offenders.

Garcia, who is deputizing for the already-suspended Juan Vazquez, received the maximum wrath. Sal Sinatra, the vice president and general manager of the Maryland Jockey Club, confirmed that Vasquez and Garcia were served with papers that demanded them to vacate the grounds of MJC-owned properties within two weeks. Sinatra remarked we will not tolerate this kind of behavior and will come after those who are found to have broken the rules.

In December, Lake had two horses test positive for Stanozolol and faces a longer penalty as he also had a horse test positive in Pennsylvania last year. The horse trainer plans to appeal the penalties. Lake once ran one of the largest and most successful stables in the United States and focused mostly on claiming horses running at Mid-Atlantic tracks. Years ago, he sharply reduced the size of his stable.

All three trainers ran horses that tested positive for Stanozolol (Winstrol), a banned anabolic steroid in races at Laurel Park in December and January. Hector Garcia also had a horse test positive for the sedative Xylazine and will be banned from training in Maryland until March 2016. The state started operating under new drug testing rules, shared by seven other states in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic, at the start of last year. Maryland used to allow horses to run with low levels of Stanozolol in their blood. Mike Hopkins, executive director of the Maryland Racing Commission, remarked the testing system is working and said he could not speculate on the reason for the sudden rash of violations.

All horses that tested positive were retroactively disqualified from their races, and purses will be redistributed based on the new results. The trainers have been assigned a variety of points under a new penalty system used in a handful of racing states that is designed for assessing the increasing penalties on the trainers if they have any other racing violations in the next several years.

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Saturday 29, Nov 2014

  Life Bans Must Be Given To Doped Horses, Says BHA Chief

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Life Bans Must Be Given To Doped Horses, Says BHA Chief

British Horseracing Authority’s chief executive has remarked that life bans should be given to all doped horses and therapeutic exemptions should not stand.

Paul Bittar, the most senior executive in British racing, remarked that time had come for the BHA to take “a strong stand” against anabolic steroids by outlawing them completely. Bittar admitted it was important to retain public confidence in horse racing. Bittar has been hailed very highly in the world of horse racing. He is credited with transforming the fortunes of the British Horseracing Authority during his two years in charge. Bittar advocated a zero-tolerance approach to the use of steroids in British racing even if the horse has a genuine medical reason for being administered those substances.

According to the recommendations of an independent report commissioned in the wake of the Godolphin and Sungate scandals last year, there may be an increase in suspension. Presently, racehorses serve a six-month suspension if they are found to have used steroids. However the report by Sandy Love, professor of equine clinical studies at Glasgow University, is set to spark a debate among the British Horseracing Authority board when the report will be discussed in the coming weeks.

The British Horseracing Authority’s chief executive believes the science behind the effects of anabolic steroid use in horses is not robust enough for any exemptions to be granted. The Mahmood Al Zarooni and Gerard Butler doping sagas and recent revelations that Irish trainers Philip Fenton and Pat Hughes had appeared in court charged with possession of anabolic steroids could help Bittar made a strong case for increased suspensions. The British Horseracing Authority was left in a dilemma after criminal proceedings were initiated against Fenton, with three of his horses scheduled to run at Cheltenham, including the Gold Cup third favorite Last Instalment.

Bittar also admitted that a massive cut in budget of the BHA in the three years before he became chief executive led to it being definitely cut back too far in testing and exposed British racing to some of the risks that we saw last year.

The BHA Chief Executive however has some reasons to smile. A few days back, the Government said it was backing the BHA’s bid to extend the Levy to offshore bookmakers operating within the UK. Bittar pledged any increase in the Levy as a result of an amendment to the Gambling Act going through Parliament would result in even more investment in the British Horseracing Authority’s integrity services.

Bittar’s focus as of now is on Cheltenham. Bittar said it is the best racing festival in the world, so you want it to be about the racing, you want it to be about the stories and remarked you want it to be about Britain versus Ireland and everything that comes with that. He also remarked so if we can get through the week, decent weather, people talking about racing and from a welfare perspective it’s been a good week, that is the best possible outcome for us.

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Sunday 11, May 2014

  Horse Racing Industry Must Act Diligently, Says RCI Chief

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Horse Racing Industry Must Act Diligently, Says RCI Chief

Ed Martin, president of the Association of Racing Commissioners International (RCI), has remarked tendency of the sport for self-flagellation and refusal of participants to take responsibility for their actions or lack of action are serious threats to the horse racing industry’s future.

The president of horse racing’s umbrella regulatory group gave the keynote address on the second day of the organization’s three-day conference in Lexington. Martin provided statistics that indicated that horse racing compares favorably with other major sports in terms of the percentage of clean drug tests. This is despite the fact that the sport tests far more samples each year. The RCI president also talked about investigations after People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) made allegations of horse abuse and mistreatment in the barn of Steve Asmussen.

Martin said we stand here today as regulators trying to police a sport, portions of which seem mired in a culture of negativity and added they never talk about what’s right with this sport. He added if you consistently talk about the negative, you will chase people away from a wonderful sport and if we’re not going to accentuate the positive, we might as well all pack up and go home now. The RCI chief said there are approximately 96,000 races run each year in the United States versus 2,475 Major League Baseball games, 1,275 National Basketball Association games, 1,275 National Hockey League games, and 275 National Football League games. Martin added that the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA), that may oversee equine medication testing for racing, performs about 8,200 tests a year versus 320,000 in racing.  Martin said horse racing compares favorably with Olympics in which about 99.6 percent of test results come back clean for illegal drugs or therapeutic medication overages.

Martin went on to add that USADA allows exemptions for performance enhancing drugs while we don’t allow performance-enhancing substances in our horses (on race day)–you can make an argument for Lasix (Furosemide, also known as Salix) as being performance-enhancing, but we disclose its use (for each horse) and added that USADA doesn’t tell you who uses what drug in what competition. Martin went on to say that if we adopted the program USADA has implemented, it would increase drug use in horse racing.

The Association of Racing Commissioners International chief said he was as “disgusted as anyone else” when he was watching the video released by PETA in March. Martin said he is advocate for (the National Uniform Medication Program), but he is not sure even if we had all those rules on the books, we would have seen anything different (in the PETA video) and you can’t legislate morality. He also remarked that if owners don’t know what they should know, maybe that’s where the system of checks and balances has failed us. The horse racing’s umbrella regulatory group President added it is easy to detach yourself from the (regulatory) front line and it is also easy to sit in the judgment. He added let us stop talking down the sport as there are too many people whose livelihoods depend on it.

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Tuesday 01, Apr 2014

  Jockey Club Wants USADA To Be In Charge

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Jockey Club Wants USADA To Be In Charge

One of horse racing’s most influential groups, The Jockey Club, has said it would be supporting to put the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) to reinstate fair play in the sport.

The club said USADA can bring law and order to horse racing, a sport that has not been able to eliminate a pervasive drug culture that has alienated some fans and put riders and horses at risk.

Ogden Mills Phipps, chairman of the club, remarked that efforts for reforming the sport from within had moved at a slow pace and not at all in some cases. The horse racing industry managed to come up with a national uniform medication program after some scandals but only 4 of the 38 states with racing have implemented this program fully. In a statement, Phipps said we will aggressively seek rapid implementation, including steps leading toward the elimination of all race-day medications. He added that the integrity of competition and the general perception of the sport all at risk, we cannot afford to wait any longer with the safety of our horses.

The announcement came after investigations by racing authorities in New York, Kentucky, and New Mexico into allegations that trainer Steve Asmussen and his top assistant, Scott Blasi, treated their horses in cruel ways. It was also alleged that both of them gave drugs to their horses for non-therapeutic purposes and even used the services of a jockey to try an electrical device to shock them into running faster. Ranking second in career victories, Asmussen had been on the National Museum of Racing’s Hall of Fame ballot but his name was promptly removed after People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) leveled the accusations after an undercover investigation that included videotaped recordings. Asmussen was also accused by PETA of employing undocumented workers, conspiring with Blasi for the purpose of producing false identification documents, and requiring undocumented workers to use false names on I.R.S. forms.

The allegations were first reported in The New York Times.

Phipps added it is his hope that these state bodies use all the prosecutorial powers available to determine if there is evidence of animal cruelty, medication violations — and cheating. He added like so many others, he was upset by what he saw in The Times and disgusted by what he saw and what was alleged in that PETA video. The Jockey Club chairman said any person abusing a horse or caught with an electronic stimulation device like the one described in the video should be banned from the sport for life. He went on to remark that and as much as it pains him to see our industry being denigrated in the media, there is another part of him that feels that we, as an industry, deserve every bit of that criticism because the sport’s rules and our penalties have not been effective deterrents.

The Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act — written by Senator Tom Udall, Democrat of New Mexico, and Representative Joe Pitts, Republican of Pennsylvania — has been brought to the attention of the Congress. This bill would give the United States Anti-Doping Agency the authority for developing rules for permitted and prohibited substances.

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Thursday 24, Mar 2011

  Kentucky could join national racing compact

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Kentucky could join national racing compactKentucky has a chance to become one of the first states to join permanently staving off the threats of fatal breakdowns and crooked betting in horse racing with an interstate compact.

Till now, only Colorado has signed up, but the landmark legislation is expected to be introduced in Delaware, Indiana, New Jersey, New York, and Virginia this year.

In recent times, the game of horse racing has been affected by accusations of anabolic steroids and performance enhancing drugs.

Friday 17, Dec 2010

  Six-time champion jockey says drug abuse exists in horse racing

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Six-time champion jockey says drug abuse exists in horse racingKieren Fallon, the six-time champion jockey, reopened old wounds by saying that there is a drug abuse problem within horse racing and, more particularly, within the extensive racing community in Newmarket.

Fallon who returned in September from an 18-month ban for a second failed drug test recently appeared on the BBC’s Inside Sport programme.

The town’s racing chaplain, the Rev Graham Locking, said there is a drugs problem in Newmarket but that’s because we are no different to any other town.

Friday 05, Mar 2010

  Plans for curbing use of steroids in horses

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Plans for curbing use of steroids in horsesStrict penalties and a testing program are awaiting thoroughbred race horses and trainers as the New Jersey Racing Commission has proposed a rule to curb the use of androgenic-anabolic steroids in horses and horse races.

This rule has been greeted by followers of horse racing who have been awaiting such a decision since long.

The proposed rule would prove itself to be a big and deciding factor for inhibiting the usage of anabolic steroids and adding fairness to horse racing. It is also expected to bring an end to the speculations and accusations about use of steroids in horse racing.

Friday 15, Jan 2010

  Steroid use among horses under the scanner

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Steroid use among horses under the scannerThe New Jersey Racing Commission has proposed a testing program and formulation of new penalties for curbing the use of androgenic-anabolic steroids in thoroughbred race horses.

The rules would be in line with what has already been in practice in more than twenty states in the recent past.

It is expected that these strict penalties would be enforceable by the proposed rule and would be helping anti-doping officials to curb steroid use besides adding fairness to horse racing. This rule is also expected to add a new dimension to the game that has been under dark clouds amidst recent steroid use accusation.

Thursday 08, Oct 2009

  New Jersey Racing Commission to limit steroid use in horses

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New Jersey Racing Commission to limit steroid use in horsesAccording to officials, the New Jersey Racing Commission has proposed a rule for the establishment of a testing program and strict penalties to inhibit the usage of androgenic-anabolic steroids in thoroughbred race horses. The rule would be very much in line with what is already been in practice in more than 20 states in the last few years.

It is believed that the strict penalties, which will be enforceable by the proposed rule, would go to a great extent for inhibiting the usage of anabolic steroids and adding fairness to horse racing. It is considered that this proposed rule would be providing a new and fair dimension to the game of horse racing, which has been in dark clouds after recent reports of steroid usage in the game.

Monday 05, Oct 2009

  NSAID and steroid policies reviewed at recent RMTC meeting

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NSAID and steroid policies reviewed at recent RMTC meetingLast September 29, 2009, in a meeting held in Louisville, Kentucky, the Racing Medication and Testing Consortium (RMTC) board of directors has accredited the formation of a committee to supervise the implementation of the Drug Testing Initiative (DTI) Task Force recommendations on quality assurance and laboratory accreditation programs for U.S. horse racing drug testing laboratories.

At the board meeting, issues such as the consumption of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and how they may affect pre-race exams by regulatory veterinarians were tackled. Dr. Tom David of the Louisiana State Racing Commission and chairman of the ARCI Racing Regulatory Veterinarian Committee explained the examining veterinarian’s interest over current NSAID and corticosteroid policies. RMTC Scientific Advisory Committee was previously appointed with the job of reexamining all existing research on NSAIDs, particularly phenylbutazone.

The RMTC Scientific Advisory Committee has noted different options for consideration in future recommendations on the administration times and threshold concentrations for NSAIDs.

The RMTC previously announced that it was carrying out research on corticosteroids commonly used in racing and the board was updated on the status of that project. A copy of Dr. Soma’s study and Dr. David’s remarks can be found at the RMTC website.

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