HBPA defends ‘zero tolerance’ position
The National Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association took issue with my comments of last week when I brought into question whether the “zero tolerance” position endorsed by the National HBPA and its affiliate members against Class 1 drugs like dermorphin would be put to the test after a recent ruling in Nebraska. In that case, Kim Veerhusen, who trains for his brother, Nebraska HBPA president Todd Veerhusen, has been suspended six weeks after dermorphin, also known as frog juice, was detected in a post-race sample of one of his horses.
The following letter of rebuttal was submitted to the Paulick Report by Philip L. Hanrahan, CEO of the National HBPA:
“In your August 24, 2012 article titled “HBPA ‘Zero Tolerance”: Too Good to be True?”, you asked if the NHBPA really meant what it said on June 21, 2012, that our organization has zero tolerance for trainers who use drugs like Dermorphin. The answer is yes. The NHBPA stands by, and reaffirms, our position that Dermorphin is a true “cheater” drug. Trainers who use it should be severely punished.
“But in saying that we also stand by a principle that is as American as apple pie: an accused is innocent until proven guilty after a fair hearing. That fair hearing includes the assistance of counsel to defend against the charges. You may have forgotten this principle. Shame on you for questioning whether the Nebraska HBPA should provide counsel to one of its members at a stewards hearing, which the Nebraska HBPA does, at no cost, for any member who requests such representation. As an aside, under Section 2-1245(6)(b) of the Nebraska Revised Statutes, in these circumstances a licensed trainer has a statutory right to counsel.
“Equally baffling is your attempt to tar and feather Todd Veerhusen, the Nebraska HBPA President, with the accusations against his brother, trainer Kim Veerhusen. Someone once said “the sins of my brother are not my sins”. In today’s racing world, is this concept no longer applicable?”
Philip L. Hanrahan