Less than two years after he started as Laboratory Director for the United States Equestrian Federation, a former official responsible for drug testing Pennsylvania Thoroughbreds is no longer employed by the Federation. Dr. Cornelius Uboh, former Bureau Director at the Pennsylvania Equine Toxicology and Research Laboratory, took over the USEF Equine Research and Testing Laboratory in September 2016. Earlier this year, USEF announced it was voiding two member suspensions and penalties for a positive drug test after officials with USEF discovered a breach in the handling procedures for test samples.
Rider Kelley Farmer and trainer Larry Glefke were fined and suspended after a sample from Farmer's horse Unexpected tested positive for GABA after a pre-green hunter class in summer 2016. GABA (formally known as gamma-aminobutyric acid), a category IV drug in USEF's rules, is a neurotransmitter which produces a calming influence. Glefke was fined $24,000 and suspended 24 months for the violation, while Farmer got a $12,000 fine and 12-month suspension from USEF activities.
USEF had been in the process of negotiating litigation with Glefke and Farmer when the organization learned about errors in the handling of the horse's B sample, according to the Chronicle of the Horse. Glefke and Farmer elected to have the horse's split sample tested by the USEF laboratory, and a statement from USEF indicated the split sample, while still showing levels of GABA, revealed a significantly different level than the original sample tested.
Uboh worked at PETRL overseeing drug testing for Pennsylvania's Thoroughbred industry for 27 years and co-authored a number of peer-reviewed studies on equine toxicology. He was dismissed in April 2014 for reasons unknown, as noted during the federal trial of trainer Murray Rojas.
USEF announced a number of policy changes to prevent a reoccurrence, including a policy disallowing its own lab from testing split samples (competitors will have the right to send split samples to other labs, as is typical in racing). The organization, which serves as the national governing body for horse sport in the United States, will bring in outside consultants to guide further training.
Read more at the Chronicle of the Horse
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