Australia: Two More Trainers Have Horses Test Positive for Cobalt

by | 01.14.2015 | 8:24am
Eight bottles of concentrated cobalt mistakenly delivered to the wrong clinic helped uncover a widespread drug issue in Australian racing

Just a day after it was announced that top Australian trainer Peter Moody was the subject of an investigation after one of his horses tested positive for the prohibited drug Cobalt, came the news that two additional trainers are also being investigated for the same thing.

The Racing Post reports that trainers Mark Kavanagh and Danny O'Brien are also set to face Racing Victoria stewards after positive drug tests were return on horses in their care.

Kavanagh, who won the 2009 Group 1 Melbourne Cup with Shocking, has had one runner in his care test positive, while O'Brien horses have returned three positive samples.

All three trainers face suspensions of up to three years if found to have deliberately administered the drug.

In a statement, Kavanagh said: “This has come as a complete shock to me as I have always placed great emphasis on integrity and operating within the rules of racing.

“We are, unfortunately, not the only stable in this situation. I am co-operating fully with the Racing Victoria Integrity Services Department to investigate how this could occur, and hopefully we will resolve the matter as soon as possible.”

Read more in the Racing Post

  • Clara Fenger, DVM, PhD, DACVIM

    Wow, either rampant cheating in Australia…or could the regulatory threshold possibly be wrong, a la Indiana? Three years suspension for a necessary trace mineral. I think perhaps they need to review the science more carefully.

    • ben van den brink

      It depends on what amounts of minerals are expected to be found normal, and what is an overdose.

    • HorsePower Racing

      yep Clara , you’re right – just a trace mineral oversight, probably not uncommon for 5 – 25 X the naturally occurring quantity. Nothing to that fact that these users run LIKE ROCKETS, off the charts….might win at 30/40% – that’s probably just luck or great training…… thanks for being so careful.

      • togahombre

        your command of the facts is impressive, why not just skip the investigation and hearing and lead them right to the chair

    • ben van den brink

      The basic need for horses is, 0,6 mg per horse per day.That is overhere recommended

    • Pop N Go

      You have to really “try” to get to these levels, just like the great vet at Indiana Grand “Dr. Russel”. Please these levels are no accident, come on people. You can’t feed these levels, it has to come from injections or from cattle pastes. Not giving too much Red Cell.

      • David Campbell

        Many Aus trainers have been using Cobalt and other drugs for several years,it is about time they were caught.

    • Tinky

      Surprise, surprise, another dubious assertion by Dr. Fenger.

      a) three positives = “rampant cheating”? Really?

      b) As you are apparently an expert on Cobalt now, please do enlighten us as to why the 200 micrograms per litre threshold level being used is too low

      c) even if one or more of the trainers used large amounts of supplements (e.g vitamin B12), which contributed to or caused the overages, there is really no good excuse for them not being aware of the risks involved

      • Ian Howard

        Since post race testing is the least effective way to evaluate the problem it would seem likely the frequency is far greater than the number of positives suggest.
        It really should come as no surprise that horse trainers lack the requisite background in chemistry to fully understand the consequences of their actions.
        What we don’t lack is hubris.

        • Tinky

          I’m the last person to underestimate the amount of cheating going on, but Dr. Fenger purports to be objective and scientific in her approach, so speculative extrapolation should obviously not inform her views.

          With regard to trainers’ understanding of chemistry, there is absolutely no excuse for them not being aware of the connections between certain supplements and elements that are performance enhancing and being tested for. In fact, they need only ask a vet to advise them on such matters.

          • Ian Howard

            They understand the connections very well what they don’t care about are the possible adverse effects of many drugs that are routinely used.
            Their is an ingrained attitude on the backstretch that if it doesn’t test it’s legal. Unfortunately this attitude has provided the critics of racing with an easy target.

            Jeff Gural is on the right track by being proactive.

          • Tinky

            I agree with you on these points.

          • Mimi Hunter

            1] I agree with you unless I’m seeing sarcasm where there wasn’t any.

            There are a whole bunch of ways that the Cobalt – or anything else – can get into a horse knowingly or not,.. on purpose or not.

            If a thorough investigation leaves things unsolved, the Powers-That-Be need to go back to the drawing board and refine their tests and investigation methods a little more. If they can prove wrong doing, I don’t think 3 years is long enough.

    • Ben van den Brink

      If they were not cheating, and it would be a normal trace level, than much more horses should be testing positive. So whatever happens, it probably does not come from a natural source. (Feed)

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