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☛ Drug suspensions by AQHA getting severe 11-1–17


By Glory Ann Kurtz
Nov. 1, 2017

Showing that the American Quarter Horse Association  is serious about getting tough on the doping of horses, the reigning racing champion of the AQHA has just been suspended for 19 years and fined $110,000 by stewards in Texas. The article in the Paulick Report came after five of trainer Judd Kearl’s horses tested positive for the Class 1 drug nomifensine – a human antidepressant medication taken off the market in the1980s.

Kearl will not be eligible for reinstatement until July 30, 2036. He was suspended one year and fined $10,000 for the first violation, three years and $25,000 for the second and five years and $25,000 for each subsequent violation.

Two other trainers were sanctioned at the same time after the horses they had in training tested positive for the medication. They included Brian Stroud, who received a one-year suspension and a $10,000 fine for one nomifensine positive and Jose Sanchez, who was suspended four years and fined $35,000 for two positives.

Kearl’s violations occurred over several weeks beginning on May 22, Kearl’s horses testing positive at Sam Houston Race Park in Houston and continuing at Retama Park in San Antonio for the other seven. The drug was detected and identified by the Texas Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Lab and the “split samples” were confirmed by the Pennsylvania Toxicology and Research Laboratory.

Testing by the “split sample” method has recently been adopted by the AQHA. Split specimen urine drug testing is used extensively by businesses and  is only slightly different from regular testing. In this process, the urine sample is split into two vials and sent to a certified lab for urine testing. One of the vials is tested and the other is stored. If the first vial is tested as positive for any reason, the person who submitted the sample can request that the other vial be tested. If this happens the second vial is then tested by another lab.

According to the rulings, all three trainers used the same veterinarian – Dr. Justin Robinson (who did not testify at the hearing) and from the evidence it was logical that he was responsible for the administration of the drug to all of the horses in question. The trainers claimed the drug was given to the  horses without their knowledge; however, the ruling stated that ignorance does not relieve them of responsibility.

Nomifensine was withdrawn from the market in the 1980s and its FDA approval was revoked in 1992. Any appeal will be heard by an administrative law judge appointed by the state of administrative hearings.

Kearl was named AQHA champion trainer after horses he trained won 129 races from 474 starts in 2016 for earnings of $4.6 million. Stroud and Sanchez also have won major Quarter Horse races during their careers.

For the full article in The Paulick Report, click on the following link:

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