ALBANY (CBS SF) – A thoroughbred horse and two groomers tested positive for methamphetamine at the Golden Gate Fields race track, raising concerns about drug abuse at California race tracks.
The horse that tested positive for methamphetamine and amphetamine, named Run for Retts, won third place at a race in December at Los Alamitos Race Track. When Run for Retts tested positive after the race, she was disqualified and the purse monies were forfeited.
An investigator for the California Horse Racing Board believes the positive drug test may have been caused as a result of human contact.
Run for Retts’ trainer, Steven Miyadi, remains on a 30-day suspension from training until after Labor Day and has been instructed to pay a $5,000 fine to the California Horse Racing Board.
Run for Retts was named to raise awareness of Rett Syndrome, a neurodevelopmental disorder that affects girls.
Miyadi told CBS San Francisco that he fired the two groomers who tested positive for the drugs in their systems and said that he doesn’t doubt that the groomers were using the illicit drugs.
“They’re young kids,” Miyadi said. “I think they were using. I do believe that.”
Run for Retts is just one of many racing horses to test positive for methamphetamine or amphetamine in recent years. Similar incidents have been reported in Kentucky, Minnesota and Australia, among other locations.
It is unclear whether any of the incidents involving horses testing positive for methamphetamine were intentionally done to enhance performance.
In the Australia case, the trainer admitted to using drugs himself, according to The Daily Telegraph. In the Minnesota case, two of the trainer’s employees were fired after testing positive for methamphetamine, according to the Minneapolis Star Tribune.
Many of the trainers who have faced suspensions maintain that the amount of methamphetamine found in, or on, their horses was very minimal and likely due to unavoidable environmental contamination.
The California Horse Racing Board recently announced that they would be stepping up drug testing indefinitely, in conjunction with the the Ken Maddy Laboratory at UC Davis, which is developing an equine Athlete Biological Passport.
The Athlete Biological Passport, which is already used on humans by the World Anti-Doping Agency, tracks biological variables over time, revealing the effects of doping rather than attempting to detect specific doping methods or substances.
California Horse Racing Board spokesman Mike Marten told CBS San Francisco that the two groomers who tested positive for meth at Golden Gate Fields had their licenses suspended for three weeks, and said the training area was searched for illicit drugs, but none were found.
He said “a person who uses meth and then handles and feeds race horses can cause passive contamination, which results in that horse testing positive for meth in violation of CHRB rules.”
Marten told CBS San Francisco that in this case, Run For Retts was most likely passively contaminated by humans who recently used methamphetamine and had residue of the drug on their skin, hair, and in their urine.
By Hannah Albarazi – Follow her on Twitter: @hannahalbarazi.