No Lie: Polygraph Test Helps Trainer Overturn Summary Suspension

by | 10.19.2017 | 11:08pm
Polygraph tests date back to the 1920s

Stewards in Oklahoma last month reversed a summary suspension of a trainer whose horse tested positive for the Class 1 drug Ritalin after the trainer was given a polygraph examination, often called a lie-detector test.

Stacey Capps was summarily suspended on Aug. 15, 2017, by the board of stewards at Fair Meadows racetrack after the Quarter horse R Miss Fireball tested positive for Ritalinic Acid following a second-place finish on July 29. The drug was detected by Industrial Laboratories of Wheat Ridge, Colo. The ruling stated that “the public health, safety, and welfare is at risk because Ritalinic Acid is a prohibited substance with no acceptable threshold level and which can affect the performance of a horse and potentially affect the welfare of the betting public, other licensees and horses in his care.”

Ritalin is a central nervous system stimulant used to treat attention deficit disorder (ADD), attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and narcolepsy in humans.

During the suspension, Capps was denied access to the enclosures of all racetracks, including the public areas coming under the jurisdiction of the Oklahoma Horse Racing Commission.

According to Kelly Cathey, executive director of the Oklahoma Horse Racing Commission, stewards agreed to a request by Capps and her attorney, John Mac Hayes, to be given a polygraph test prior to a Sept. 7 hearing. The racing commission's attorney selected questions and the polygraph examiner with the agreement of Capps and Hayes.

Following the hearing, according to a ruling dated Sept. 7, stewards said that Capps had shown “good cause” to have the summary suspension lifted. A hearing on the positive test is scheduled for Nov. 16.

“The summary suspension was horribly unfair,” said Hayes, who is seeking approval for another summarily suspended trainer in Oklahoma to undergo the same testing. “I thought it was a good, discretionary thing for the stewards to do (lifting the summary suspension).”

The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that courts are not required to admit polygraph tests into the record, with the majority stating in a 1998 case: “There is simply no consensus that polygraph evidence is reliable.”

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