By: Matt Hegarty
Michael Weiner, a harness trainer in New York, has been suspended indefinitely by New York regulators after four horses he started at Monticello Raceway in February tested positive for a substance that is reputed to have stimulant effects.
The New York State Gaming Commission announced the suspension Wednesday, an order that will bar Weiner from all New York racetracks. A hearing has been scheduled for June 2, the gambling commission said in a release. He is facing the possibility of his license being revoked and a $25,000 fine on each doping count.
The four horses tested positive for mitragynine, the principal psychoactive compound of a tropical evergreen, mitragyna speciosa, which is also known as kratom. Kratom leaves have been used for several centuries for their stimulant effects, and drugs derived from the plant have become increasingly common among recreational drug users, according to drug-enforcement authorities.
Mitragynine is not specifically classified by racing regulators, but most racing states, including New York, have language in their statutes banning any substance that can affect a horse’s performance. The Drug Enforcement Agency has moved to list the drug as a Schedule 1 controlled substance, and a handful of states have banned the drug from being sold.
“This dangerous drug has no business anywhere in horse racing,” said Ronald Ochrym, the commission’s director of horse racing and parimutuel wagering, in announcing the suspension.
The gambling commission said this is the first time the drug has been detected in a post-race sample. The drug has not been found in any other racing jurisdiction.
Weiner has won nine races at Monticello this season from 78 starts. Two of the winners, Bupa Bruiser on Feb. 2 and Majestic Jo on Feb. 7, tested positive for mitragynine.