By: Matt Stewart
THE Australian Trainers’ Association has urged its members to toss out their ibuprofen or suffer the unfair consequences.
The list of trainers with inadvertent positive drug tests to the anti-inflammatory medication is growing — and the cost is significant; the horse loses the race and the trainer can be fined up to $1500.
ATA legal counsel Ross Inglis backs Racing Victoria’s advice for trainers to stop using ibuprofen because the racing industry does not know enough about its properties, including how long it can remain in a horse’s system.
Inglis said more sensitive drug-testing equipment added to the Russian roulette gamble with ibuprofen, which has long been regarded as a valuable tool in helping horses with tendon injuries.
“It’s a shame because it’s a damn good treatment and one trainers use quite often,” he said.
“It’s not illegal; it’s only a problem when it pops up on a raceday positive, and those positives are seemingly out of control.
It’s simply too dangerous to use now, as far as the cost goes.
“(The) simple tip for trainers is to not use it.’’
ATA president Robbie Griffiths, one of many trainers to have been fined and lose a race for an ibuprofen positive, also urged trainers to toss their ibuprofen in the bin.
He said his horse, Roman Fizz, who tested positive to ibuprofen last July, had never been treated with the drug.
“Just get rid of it,’’ he said.
Weir had tested Signoff three times before the Flemington race and each time he returned a negative test.
He said he had other good horses, including Lord Van Percy, whose campaigns were in limbo because they might test positive to ibuprofen.
On Friday, Warrnambool trainer Aaron Purcell was told his best horse, St Jean, had returned both a negative and a positive test in elective testing to the drug.
The horse’s Australian Cup campaign is now in limbo.
“It’s all so frustrating. I feel sorry for the owners as the horse has been in work for a while with the Australian Cup as his goal,” Purcell said.
“St Jean is the best horse I’ve trained. He’s shown us tons of ability, but it looks like his career may be over as we can’t get two negative readings.”
Griffiths, Weir, Archie Alexander, Symon Wilde and Clinton McDonald have all had horses return positive tests to the drug in recent months.
Inglis said it was inappropriate to fine the trainers for ibuprofen positives.
“They’re trying to do the right thing and they get whacked. It seems wrong,’’ he said.