At Equine Legal Solutions, we are seeing what appears to be the beginning of a terrifying new trend. An innocent owner or trainer shows or races a horse, and the horse wins. The horse is then drug-tested. Weeks later, the owner and trainer receive a letter informing them that the horse has tested positive for a prohibited substance. The owner and trainer are outraged and certain that the test is a false positive, because they know they did not administer the prohibited substance to the horse. In fact, they may have never even heard of the substance.
The owner and trainer request a test of the B sample and it, too, comes back positive. The only possible explanation is bone-chilling: someone snuck into their horse's stall and gave their horse a drug without their knowledge or authorization.
The rules are strict - a positive drug test means forfeiting winnings and most likely a suspension as well. What can the innocent owner and trainer do? How do they prove that they were not responsible? Generally, they cannot get the police to investigate, and the show association or racing commission is not interested in helping them. Usually, the only practical choice is to hire a private investigator, and even they may not be able to uncover proof of malfeasance. In the event that the owner or trainer can prove that someone else administered the substance to the horse without their permission, they will likely have a viable legal case against the perpetrator. They will also likely have a viable defense for the administrative action they face from their show or racing commission. Otherwise, the owner and trainer are nearly helpless to defend themselves, and the evildoer gets away with the dirty deed.
What top competitors do to protect themselves from this new threat? One potential low cost solution is to install a webcam in each horse's stall area and have that camera record what happens when you cannot be there in person. Such a solution will also allow the competitor to monitor their horse's behavior and condition without leaving the comfort of their hotel room or RV. Another solution is to hire private security to monitor the horses 24 x 7, or at least during off hours. Still another solution is to organize an informal night watch program with trusted fellow competitors.