Wee warning: horse fails dope test after stable lad caught short

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  • Trainers and stable staff have been warned of the dangers of urinating in stables, after a horse tested positive for a painkiller taken by her stable lad.

    A sample taken from three-year-old Wotadoll after a race at Wolverhampton on 12 November 2016 was found to contain banned substance o-desmethyltramadol, a metabolite of human painkiller tramadol.

    The British Horseracing Authority (BHA) disciplinary panel was told the filly, trained by Dean Ivory, had been given antibiotics for a respiratory infection in the three months before the race, but the source of the tramadol had not been identified from her medication records or inventory.

    The two grooms, apprentice jockey and farrier interviewed by BHA investigating officers all stated they were not taking tramadol.

    But the BHA said in a statement that stable lad Shane Cuddy told officers he had been prescribed tramadol after surgery, and that he took the tablets “on an ad hoc basis in the mornings”.

    “His duties included mucking out Wotadoll’s horse box and whilst mucking out the horses he sometimes urinated in the stables,” the statement added.

    “Mr Ivory stated he was disappointed to hear Mr Cuddy urinated in the stables as there were male and female toilets on the yard for the staff to use.

    “He had not thought it necessary to instruct his staff not to urinate in the stables, given the proximity of the toilets, but he would be speaking to Mr Cuddy about this practice and warning his staff more generally about the risks of urinating in a horse’s stable.”

    A member of the BHA’s equine and welfare department told the panel it was possible the source of the substance was the filly’s stable being contaminated by Mr Cuddy’s urine.

    “The filly would then have been contaminated with tramadol and would have tested positive for this drug as well as o-desmethyltramadol,” the statement read, adding: “Mr Ivory stated he was shocked and surprised a member of his staff was urinating in the stables. He had no idea that this was occurring.

    “It had never occurred to him to warn any of the staff not to urinate in the stables, because he never considered it necessary.”

    Mr Ivory admitted breaching the rules and accepted that the mare should be disqualified from the race, but stated he had taken “all reasonable precautions to avoid breaching the rules” so no penalty should be imposed.

    “The panel concluded that the probable source of the prohibited substance was as a result of Mr Cuddy urinating in the stable,” the BHA statement read.

    “There is absolutely no evidence of the horse coming into contact with tramadol through any other source.”

    But the panel found Mr Ivory should have “made it expressly clear to all staff” that urinating in stables “must never happen” and that as he had not proved he had take all reasonable precautions to prevent such a situation, he was liable for a fine, of £750 in this case.

    “The panel would wish to underline the importance of trainers and stable staff being reminded of the importance of taking all reasonable precautions as regards to medication being taken by those at the stables, and the danger of urinating in stables or horse boxes,” the statement read.

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