02/02/2015 11:29AM

Three Maryland trainers suspended for steroids

Email

The Maryland Racing Commission has suspended three trainers, including Scott Lake, after horses they trained tested positive for prohibited anabolic steroids, according to commission records.

The horses all tested positive for stanozolol, an anabolic steroid that was once commonly used in Thoroughbred racing before the industry cracked down on steroid use in 2010. The steroid was marketed at that time under the name Winstrol, but it is now only available through compounding pharmacies.

Lake was suspended 60 days, starting this coming Thursday, after two horses he trained tested positive for the drug. In a ruling, the stewards noted that Lake also had a horse test positive for stanozolol in mid-2014 in Pennsylvania. Lake was issued two 60-day suspensions by the Maryland commission, but the suspensions will run concurrently because Lake had not been notified of the first positive at the time that the second horse tested positive.

Lake once ran one of the largest and most successful stables in the U.S., focusing mostly on claiming horses running at Mid-Atlantic tracks. He sharply reduced the size of his stable several years ago.

The commission also suspended A. Ferris Allen for 15 days for a positive for the drug. Allen, who finished in the top 100 of trainers by wins from 2000-10, was initially suspended 30 days, but the commission took into account his relatively clean record and testimony from his veterinarian in reducing the suspension, provided he does not have another positive within three years of the penalty.

“His vet had said that they thought they were using it in the proper way, about 35 days out of the race,” said J. Mike Hopkins, the executive director of the commission.

Prior to 2010, anabolic steroids were not regulated in racing. The drugs were commonly used to build muscle mass by maintaining a horse’s appetite, but following the widespread adoption of rules prohibiting their use within 30 days of a race, use of the drugs was largely thought to have dried up. Because anabolic steroids can have therapeutic uses, commissions adopted the 30-day rule to prohibit trainers from using the drugs regularly in training.

In 2013, the Maryland Racing Commission adopted rules that treated any finding of an anabolic steroid in the blood as a violation, a so-called “zero-tolerance” rule, Hopkins said. All of the positive findings cited in the rulings were detected in blood samples.

The third trainer to be suspended was Hector Garcia, who had three horses test positive for the drug. Another horse trained by Garcia also tested positive for xylazine, a tranquilizer, according to commission records. With the four positive tests, Garcia was suspended for 13 months, beginning Thursday and going through next February. Hopkins said that Garcia claimed during his hearing in late January that he did not know why the horses tested positive for stanozolol.

All of the horses who tested positive were disqualified, and purses in the races were redistributed, the rulings said. In addition, the trainers were assigned a variety of points under a new penalty system used in a handful of racing states that is designed to assess increasing penalties on the trainers if they have any other racing violations in the next several years.