By: Hannah Albarazi
ALBANY (CBS SF) – A thoroughbred horse and two groomers tested positive for methamphetamine at the Golden Gate Fields race track, raising concerns about drug abuse at California race tracks.
The horse that tested positive for methamphetamine and amphetamine, named Run for Retts, won third place at a race in December at Los Alamitos Race Track. When Run for Retts tested positive after the race, she was disqualified and the purse monies were forfeited.
An investigator for the California Horse Racing Board believes the positive drug test may have been caused as a result of human contact.
Run for Retts’ trainer, Steven Miyadi, remains on a 30-day suspension from training until after Labor Day and has been instructed to pay a $5,000 fine to the California Horse Racing Board.
Run for Retts was named to raise awareness of Rett Syndrome, a neurodevelopmental disorder that affects girls.
Miyadi told CBS San Francisco that he fired the two groomers who tested positive for the drugs in their systems and said that he doesn’t doubt that the groomers were using the illicit drugs.
“They’re young kids,” Miyadi said. “I think they were using. I do believe that.”
Run for Retts is just one of many racing horses to test positive for methamphetamine or amphetamine in recent years. Similar incidents have been reported in Kentucky, Minnesota and Australia, among other locations.
It is unclear whether any of the incidents involving horses testing positive for methamphetamine were intentionally done to enhance performance.
In the Australia case, the trainer admitted to using drugs himself, according to The Daily Telegraph. In the Minnesota case, two of the trainer’s employees were fired after testing positive for methamphetamine, according to the Minneapolis Star Tribune.
Many of the trainers who have faced suspensions maintain that the amount of methamphetamine found in, or on, their horses was very minimal and likely due to unavoidable environmental contamination.
The California Horse Racing Board announced last week that they would be stepping up drug testing indefinitely, in conjunction with the the Ken Maddy Laboratory at UC Davis, which is developing an equine Athlete Biological Passport.
The Athlete Biological Passport, which is already used on humans by the World Anti-Doping Agency, tracks biological variables over time, revealing the effects of doping rather than attempting to detect specific doping methods or substances.
The UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine is also developing methods to combat anabolic steroids and gene doping in horse racing, according to the California Horse Racing Board.
The California Horse Racing Board has not responded to a request made by CBS San Francisco last week asking them to identify the Golden Gate Fields groomers who tested positive, confirm whether the training area was searched for illicit drugs and whether the groomers were permitted to work for other trainers.