HBPA defends ‘zero tolerance’ position

by | 08.27.2012 | 6:06am

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  In today's racing world, is this concept no longer applicable?”

Sincerely yours,
Philip L. Hanrahan
Lexington, Ky

  • Stan James

    This rebuttal is not factual. There have been many instances in Nebraska where the legal councel has been denied. It is more of a ….. If you are one of us we will, if not, we won’t. Furthermore, Paulick you are dead on here. I applaud this investigatory journalism. Don’t stop. This onion has layers

  • stillriledup

    I was confused for a second and then realized that Kim is a man, so its brother-brother and not sister-brother.

    This Hanrahan thinks its baffling that Ray would be curious to know how the veerhusen relationship might affect this situation? Really? I think it would be baffling if Ray ignored this important fact and didnt write about it. As far as Ray ‘tarring and feathering’ Todd Veerhusen, i didnt get that at all.

    In his rebuttal, PL Hanrahan says “trainers who use it should be severely punished” Why not say “trainers who use it WILL be severly punished”? Is there a reason the word SHOULD was used instead of WILL?

    WILL is a stronger word than SHOULD when it comes to zero tolerance.

  • William Koester

    Simply put, does Mr Hanrahan believe that anyone found guilty of a class 1 violation should be banned for life ? If not, why ?

  • Sunday Silence

    I think the reason the word “should” is used is because the horsemen don’t dictate/set penalties so saying “will” isn’t going to work. If you want to complain about the penalty Kim Veerhusen received take it up with the Nebraska Racing Commission, they dropped the ball big time.

  • LibertysKid

    I’m curious. Who was
    it that said the “sins of my brother…”? I can’t find it in the either the Old or New
    Testament. Aside from the anonymous
    quote, it’s odd to imply that the brother has indeed sinned after championing
    the principle of innocent until proven guilty.
    The tone of the HBPA response undermines their argument. Sound facts can speak for themselves without
    the indignant “Shame on you”.
    Paulick’s skepticism in not unfounded, and the HBPA would earn more credibility
    by acknowledging his concern.

  • Convene

    In a world full of instances (in and out of racing!) when family “covers” for family, I can’t imagine Ray’s questions were out of line. Over and over these days we see instances of the famous quote: “All men are created equal, but some are more equal than others.” We all need to question situations where bias could conceivably become a factor, and cases involving family of authority/power figures rank high on the list. Go for it, Ray. You’re right on the money. Now we shall see how it all plays out …

  • Sean Kerr

    I note that Mr. Hanrahan seems to have forgotton the concept of “conflict of interest”. The ethical thing here is for the HBPA to step aside and allow the accused to seek his own independent counsel. Or – is Mr. Hanrahan declaring that the entire HBPA is being accused and that the HBPA in its entirety has a right to due process here? The HBPA often seems to operate in their own curious version of reality.

  • What about it, Mr. Hanrahan, care to answer Mr. Koester’s question?

  • dave_parker

    A gentlemanly, measured response from the HBPA. Just a suggestion and reading through the lines here, but any other claims against trainers, HBPA, commissioners, etc., which impugn their characters and/or are factually inaccurate might be best run through an attorney before they are published.

  • Stanley inman

    “…true cheater drug”

    I guess mr. hanrahan wanted to make an important distinction for us-
    That dermorhine is a “true” cheater drug

    but other drug violations (overages)
    are not “true” cheating drugs.
    even though there are clearly defined rules about their use,
    We are free to break these rules
    because it’s not “cheating”
    I get it.
    Thanks for the clarification.

    You know- those pesky “overages” arnt really cheating/

  • Itsallgood

    Philip L. Hanrahan just needs to buy some PR advertisment and his bad press will go away.

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