Horse racing trainers, veterinarians charged in ‘widespread’ international doping scheme

An alleged international drug scheme involving horse trainers and veterinarians, among other figures in horse racing, has lead to 27 individuals being charged in connection to a series of criminal actions against the animals to make them faster, according to the Associated Press. Authorities say those involved in drugging the horses in an attempt to improve speed misled government agencies, federal and state regulators, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, state horse racing regulators and those betting on races to cover up what was going on. On top of everything else, the drugging also endangered the animals, the indictments read. 

Jason Servis, who is the trainer of Maximum Security, allegedly administered PEDs to the high-profile horse — which initially won the 2019 Kentucky Derby before being disqualified over interference — as well as “virtually all the racehorses under his control.”

On Monday in Manhattan federal court, the charges were broken down into four indictments including drug adulteration and misbranding conspiracy. 

From the AP:

“The charges in this indictment result from a widespread, corrupt scheme by racehorse trainers, veterinarians, PED (performance-enhancing drug) distributors and others to manufacture, distribute and receive adulterated and misbranded PEDs and to secretly administer those PEDs to racehorses under scheme participants’ control.”

People involved in the scheme, from those in marketing, to distributors, to those who administer the drugs directly, have been interrupting the industry and drugging animals for at least the last ten years, according to the charges. They are known as “blood builders.”

According to the indictments, the drugs used can make the horses overwork themselves. This overexertion can lead to heart issues and can even kill the animal. The drugs used can also cause a horse to be less sensitive to pain, causing the animal to be able to last longer on the track or race through injury. This lessened sensitivity can result in leg fractures. 

One indictment, according to the New York TImes, state that those charged did this “all to the detriment and risk of the health and well-being of the racehorses.”

The actions of those charged allegedly impacted races spanning from New York, New Jersey, Florida, Ohio, Kentucky to the United Arab Emirates.

Stimulating a horse’s endurance has allegedly been used on some of the more well known trainers. 

Servis is specifically charged with administering SGF-100, a performance enhancing drug, to Maximum Security, then suggesting it to another trainer, Jorge Navarro, who has also been charged as a result of this investigation. Servis is also accused of conspiring with a veterinarian to make the drug test taken appear like a false positive for a different substance. 

Maximum Security won the Florida Derby, Haskell Invitational, Bold Ruler Handicap Cigar Mile and last month secured the $10 million winner’s share at the world’s richest race, the Saudi Cup. 

Prosecutors noted that they are dealing with a $100 billion dollar industry that often sees horses selling at over $1 million. 

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