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Monthly Archives: February 2013

Doping and Medical Control within British Horseracing – AWOL 2003-2009?

In June 2009 headline in the Daily Telegraph read as follows:

Nicky Henderson has been fined a record £40,000 and banned from making entries for three months after being found guilty of administering an anti-bleeding drug to the Queen’s horse Moonlit Path at Huntingdon in February.

BHA’s Full Decisions and Reasons can be found here, but initially I want to focus on one section in particular:

Evidence at this Enquiry

12. The main factual evidence came just from Henderson. He had given notice that he intended to call Mr Main, and he also produced a statement signed on 3 June 2009 from him. This statement was also sent direct by Mr Main to the BHA on 3 June, under cover of a letter in which he expressed disagreement with the note compiled by the BHA investigators of his interview on 9 April. (Mr Main had refused to allow this to be recorded at the time). But on 18 June 2009, the BHA was informed by Henderson’s representatives that Mr Main would not be called to give evidence, because he was refusing to come.

13. As will be apparent from the analysis of this case below, it is obvious that Mr Main had some important, perhaps vital evidence to give. The Panel therefore raised with the parties the possibility of adjourning the enquiry to see if Mr Main might respond to invitations to attend from the BHA or even from the Panel direct. Mr Norris QC for Henderson forcefully opposed this course, and Mr McPherson QC for the BHA doubted whether Mr Main might respond to their invitation, because of the earlier dispute with him about the accuracy of the 9 April interview note.

14. The Panel saw an additional possible benefit from an adjournment. This would have allowed evidence to be taken from Tom Symonds, who was also, in the Panel’s view, someone with an important story to tell. But Mr Norris QC’s reaction to that was again to resist any adjournment, because he did not propose to call any evidence from Symonds. The Panel’s eventual decision was not to adjourn, because it was uncertain whether Mr Main would agree to give evidence, even with the “encouragement” he might be given by drawing his attention to Rule 6 of the Rules of Racing. It remained the Panel’s view that Mr Main and Mr Symonds had potentially crucial evidence to give.

So what was this evidence? Well we had to wait for the findings of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeon to be published on the 22nd February 2011. Full report can be found here

An extract below from the findings of Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons:

“The Committee has considered very carefully the explanation put forward by Mr Main for the use of the term “pre-race check” on Moonlit Path’s clinical records, and indeed, on the invoice. It has concluded that the use of the term was, in effect, a protocol developed over several years between the practice and Mr Henderson to conceal the administration of tranexamic acid by injection to a horse on a race day.”

So who was James Main? Well he worked within the practice of O’Gorman Slater Main & Partners which has upwards of 25 yards in and around Lambourn on its books. He was member of the following BHA Committees: Counter-Analysis Advisory Committee and Veterinary Committee as well as being a NTF Veterinary Advisor.  Taking this into consideration, this further extract from RCVS findings makes for interesting reading:

“At the outset of the hearing, Mr Main admitted the first head of charge (a) (i) namely that on 19th February 2009, he injected Moonlit Path, which he knew to be racing later that day, with tranexamic acid when he knew that to do so would result in a breach of Instruction C9 and Rule 221B (i) of the BHA rules of racing. He accepted that at the relevant time he was aware of the provisions of Instruction C9 which prohibited any substance being given to a horse at any time on the day of a race whether by an injection, orally or any other method with the exception of normal feed and water by mouth.”

The RCVS concluded the following:

“It has concluded that Mr Main did not know at the time he administered the injection that, if tested, Moonlit Path would prove positive for tranexamic acid. It accepts Mr Main’s oral evidence that he, and other veterinary surgeons at the practice, had administered tranexamic acid to horses on race days at Mr Henderson’s yard over a significant period of time without positive testing.”

So here we have a member of BHA Counter-Analysis Advisory Committee and Veterinary Committee administering illegal race day substances having the confidence in the Medical Control procedure that it would come back as a negative test.  The RCVS even questions the validity of the BHA testing procedures;

“While it is evident from the BHA’s Guidelines that the sensitivity of the tests is in a process of continual development, the Committee is unable to speculate as to why tranexamic acid had not tested positive on horses to which Mr Main had administered it on previous occasions. However, it is satisfied that Mr Main believed at the time he administered the injection that Moonlit Path would not test positive for tranexamic acid.”

Further question marks over the effectiveness of doping control were raised in the recent allegation of milkshaking made against James Boyle. A baseline CO2 test would have enabled accurate conclusions to be drawn but that was deemed “unnecessary” by Paul Scotney, the former Director of Integrity Services, Compliance and Licensing, and Professor Tom Morris, then Director of Equine Science and Welfare.

Both Paul Scotney and Professor Tim Morris have left the British Horse Racing Authority in recent months, during a much needed reconfiguration of the BHA services and structure. Paul Bittar said “We are proud that British Racing is justifiably held in high regard on the subject, but we know there is no room for complacency.”

However, the findings of the RCVS regarding the administration/testing of tranexamic acid and the lack of a fundamental baseline test in a doping case cast serious doubt as to the rigour of BHA’s Doping and Medical Control between 2003 and 2009, and in turn the performances of the thoroughbred throughout that period.

 
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Posted by on February 19, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

Open letter to BHA Director of Integrity, Legal and Risk

Dear Mr Adam Brickell,

I have a few questions with regards to the findings published on 22nd February 2011, Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons v James Main and its impact on the Disciplinary Hearing heard in June 2009:

1)       During the hearing the Panel raised the possibility of adjourning the enquiry to see if Mr Main might respond to invitations to attend from the BHA or even from the Panel direct.

Why would the BHA look to suppress such evidence?

2)       Until his resignation following the incident, Mr James Main was the veterinary adviser to the National Trainers Federation (“NTF”) which represents trainers’ interests. As the NTF’s representative he was a member of the British Horseracing Authority’s (“BHA”) Veterinary Committee. He also sat on the BHA’s Counter-Analysis Advisory Committee.

Mr Main therefore knew Instruction C9 regarding the prohibition on any substance other than normal feed and water being given to a horse on the day of a race was introduced in 2003. Obviously it would have been embarrassing for the BHA that a member of the above committees was in front of a disciplinary panel showing his understanding that tranexamic acid was undetectable on testing following a race and that the procedure was widely used by other veterinary surgeons and trainers on race day. Is this why Mr James Main was not called to give evidence?

3)       Professor Morris believed that the laboratory used by the BHA had been able to identify tranexamic acid as part of its testing process for a number of years prior to 2009. However, the only other occasion the BHA had been notified of a positive result showing the presence of tranexamic acid in a sample had been in March 2009.

Again would the evidence of James Main and Tom Symonds have highlighted the inefficiencies of BHA’s Doping Control?

4)       Professor Morris said in his written statement that he believed that testing for tranexamic acid had been in place for some time. He also said that he was aware of only one other instance of a horse testing positive in March 2009, which was shortly after Moonlit Path’s positive test.

Obviously the tests upto to February 2009 were either too infrequent, or not upto standard.  Was there any noticeable change in testing procedures between 2003 and February 2009?

5)       While it is evident from the BHA’s Guidelines that the sensitivity of the tests is in a process of continual development, the Committee is unable to speculate as to why tranexamic acid had not tested positive on horses to which Mr Main had administered it on previous occasions. However, it is satisfied that Mr Main believed at the time he administered the injection that Moonlit Path would not test positive for tranexamic acid.

Ouch – That has got to hurt?

A member of the BHA Counter-Analysis Advisory Committee working on the understanding the horse would not test positive.

6)       The BHA Guidance states “Not all prohibited substances are detectable in racing laboratories but they are still prohibited. Where such substances are of concern to racing authorities they will encourage their racing laboratories to develop new methods to detect them. Do not forget that some samples that have been declared negative are frozen and will be reanalysed if/when new methods are developed”

Has the BHA carried out tests on samples between the period of 2003 and February 2009 to see if they tested positive for tranexamic acid?

7)       The Committee has considered very carefully the explanation put forward by Mr Main for the use of the term “pre-race check” on Moonlit Path’s clinical records, and indeed, on the invoice. It has concluded that the use of the term was, in effect, a protocol developed over several years between the practice and Mr Henderson to conceal the administration of tranexamic acid by injection to a horse on a race day. The Committee is satisfied that Mr Main used the term in the practice clinical record and on the invoice, to conceal that an injection of tranexamic acid had been administered to a horse on a race day. It is sure that the underlying purpose shared by both Mr Main and Mr Henderson was to conceal a breach of Instruction C9 when the BHA inspected the yard’s records. Both Mr Symonds and Mr Pauling showed obvious discomfiture during their evidence when admitting that they knew that no substance should be given to a horse on a race day other than normal food and water and that was why injections of tranexamic acid were not entered into the yard’s own medication record.

How many medical records, at Nicky Henderson’s or other trainers whose vets were O’Gorman Slater Main & Partners, were reviewed following the publication of these findings?

8)       The Committee carefully observed Mr Main when he was asked questions about the use of the term “pre-race check” and observed his obvious unease. Any disagreement Mr Main may have had with the BHA’s rules of racing did not justify him perpetuating a practice that he knew was designed to conceal from the BHA that tranexamic acid had been administered to a horse on a race day.

Ouch – That has got to hurt?

9)       In the witness statement which he provided to the BHA on 3rd June 2009 he said at paragraph 16: “At the time I injected Moonlit Path I was aware that there had been a relatively recent change to the rules of racing in that it had become prohibited to administer any substance on the day of racing. I presumed Mr Henderson was also aware of the rule. I did not ask when she was to run.” Putting to one side that the change in the rule occurred in 2003, the Committee concluded that at the time he prepared his witness statement he was avoiding any admission that he knew Moonlit Path was to race on the same day as he administered the injection when he said “I did not ask when she was to run.”

Can you please advise the time frame Mr James Main was on the BHA’s Counter-Analysis Advisory Committee. Can you please also advise the process re the rule change in 2003 and what committees were involved.

10)   The Committee also concluded that it is inconceivable that an experienced equine veterinary surgeon in Mr Main’s position as the NTF veterinary representative on the BHA Veterinary Committee and a member of the Counter Analysis Committee would not have known of the existence of Instruction C9, or indeed, the other rules of racing referred to in this case. The content of the foreword written by Mr Main on Detection Times Information in the NTF Medication Record is indicative of his state of knowledge when he said “There is an increasing amount of information being published regarding detection times for residues following administration of different medications, this is useful information and the work of the BHA in this area should be applauded. However, trainers should be aware of variations due to individual horse absorption and metabolism differences in drug preparations and routes of administration … Trainers should consult their veterinary surgeon regarding acceptable withdrawal times for a particular medication.”

Guess he’s stopped applauding.

Kind regards

Daniel Kelly

 
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Posted by on February 14, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

Clinical Record Entry – “Pre Race Check”

“Check” – Dictionary – Examine (something) in order to determine its accuracy, quality, or condition, or to detect the presence of something.

“Pre-race check” – Nicky Henderson, Tom Symonds, Ben Pauling and James Main – a protocol developed over several years between the practice and Mr Henderson to conceal the administration of tranexamic acid by injection to a horse on a race day.

So for any of you who have not been following my tweets in recent days; In June 2009 headline in Telegraph was as follows:

Nicky Henderson has been fined a record £40,000 and banned from making entries for three months after being found guilty of administering an anti-bleeding drug to the Queen’s horse Moonlit Path at Huntingdon in February.

BHA’s Full Decisions and Reasons can be found here; http://www.britishhorseracing.com/resources/about/whatwedo/disciplinary/disciplinaryDetail.asp?item=089819 but initially I want to focus on one section in particular:

Evidence at this Enquiry

12. The main factual evidence came just from Henderson. He had given notice that he intended to call Mr Main, and he also produced a statement signed on 3 June 2009 from him. This statement was also sent direct by Mr Main to the BHA on 3 June, under cover of a letter in which he expressed disagreement with the note compiled by the BHA investigators of his interview on 9 April. (Mr Main had refused to allow this to be recorded at the time). But on 18 June 2009, the BHA was informed by Henderson’s representatives that Mr Main would not be called to give evidence, because he was refusing to come.

13. As will be apparent from the analysis of this case below, it is obvious that Mr Main had some important, perhaps vital evidence to give. The Panel therefore raised with the parties the possibility of adjourning the enquiry to see if Mr Main might respond to invitations to attend from the BHA or even from the Panel direct. Mr Norris QC for Henderson forcefully opposed this course, and Mr McPherson QC for the BHA doubted whether Mr Main might respond to their invitation, because of the earlier dispute with him about the accuracy of the 9 April interview note.

14. The Panel saw an additional possible benefit from an adjournment. This would have allowed evidence to be taken from Tom Symonds, who was also, in the Panel’s view, someone with an important story to tell. But Mr Norris QC’s reaction to that was again to resist any adjournment, because he did not propose to call any evidence from Symonds. The Panel’s eventual decision was not to adjourn, because it was uncertain whether Mr Main would agree to give evidence, even with the “encouragement” he might be given by drawing his attention to Rule 6 of the Rules of Racing. It remained the Panel’s view that Mr Main and Mr Symonds had potentially crucial evidence to give.

So what was this evidence? Well we had to wait for the findings of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeon to be published on the 22nd February 2011, http://www.rcvs.org.uk/document-library/main-feb-2011-findings.

Here are the best bits:

12) Henderson said in evidence that he “did not think that we had administered anything terribly illegal and the horse had not exactly won the race”.

21) Main said that it was widely used by other veterinary surgeons and trainers on race days to treat horses with a history of EIPH.

24) The Committee was unimpressed by Mr Henderson’s evidence and were surprised by his apparent lack of knowledge of the rules of racing. It considered that Mr Symonds and Mr Pauling did their best to assist the Committee in difficult circumstances.

25) Committee accepts Mr Main’s oral evidence that he, and other veterinary surgeons at the practice, had administered tranexamic acid to horses on race days at Mr Henderson’s yard over a significant period of time without positive testing.

25) While it is evident from the BHA’s Guidelines that the sensitivity of the tests is in a process of continual development, the Committee is unable to speculate as to why tranexamic acid had not tested positive on horses to which Mr Main had administered it on previous occasions.

32) Committee has concluded that the use of the term was, in effect, a protocol developed over several years between the practice and Mr Henderson to conceal the administration of tranexamic acid by injection to a horse on a race day.

32) It is sure that the underlying purpose shared by both Mr Main and Mr Henderson was to conceal a breach of Instruction C9 when the BHA inspected the yard’s records. Both Mr Symonds and Mr Pauling showed obvious discomfiture during their evidence when admitting that they knew that no substance should be given to a horse on a race day other than normal food and water and that was why injections of tranexamic acid were not entered into the yard’s own medication record.

So what happened next?

Well Tom Symonds left and started training himself – Be interested to hear the motives behind that move.

and…er…well that’s it.

So with the findings highlighting a protocol to conceal the administration of banned substances by calling the procedure a “pre race check”, Did the BHA review the clinical records of all Mr Henderson’s horses?

Did the BHA review their penalty following the evidence of Mr Main, Mr Symonds and Mr Pauling? A reminder of what was said by BHA QC at the Disciplinary Hearing; Mr McPherson QC for the BHA doubted whether Mr Main might respond to their invitation, because of the earlier dispute with him about the accuracy of the 9 April interview note.

Has Mr Main been approached by the BHA with regards to his statement of the protocol being used by other trainers on race day?

There are many more questions that need answering after you have read both documents. Be interested to know what questions you would like to ask the BHA or Mr Henderson. Please use the comments section below.

 
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Posted by on February 13, 2013 in Uncategorized