Trainer Judd Becker recently received a 90-day suspension after Bushrod tested positive for cardarine following a victory in the $100,000 Mystic Lake Turf Express Stakes Aug. 25 at Canterbury Park in Minnesota.
Writing in his InsideRacing Regs blog, former longtime regulator Joe Gorajec wonders why the trainer got such a light penalty for what he called a “serious drug that has no business in a racehorse.”
Cardarine, originally known as GW-501516 while developed in the 1990s to treat metabolic and cardiovascular diseases, was found to be a cancer-causing agent in animal studies and its trials were halted. It is available on the black market and the Internet for “Research Purposes,” drug testing expert Dr. Richard Sams told Gorajec. Cardarine was promoted on one website peddling horse products as an “ultimate endurance enhancer.” The World Anti-Doping Agency has banned cardarine, which it refers to as a performance-enhancing substance. WADA also issued a warning about the health risks associated with the drug.
The Association of Racing Commissioners International's Model Rule calls for a minimum of a one-year suspension and $10,000 for cardarine, yet Becker received one-fourth of the minimum recommendation (his suspension of 180 days was reduced to 90 days if he has no further Class 1, 2 or 3 violations in the year that follows). Bushrod was disqualified from the win and his purse earnings were redistributed.
Just as puzzling as the light suspension, Gorajec writes, is the lack of an explanation for leniency by the Minnesota Racing Commission's executive director, Tom DiPasquale. The latter told Thoroughbred Daily News he could not discuss details of the negotiated settlement agreement with Becker.
“Embracing transparency is always the best approach,” writes Gorajec. “I don't know if the commission can't explain their decision or won't explain their decision. There is a difference.”
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