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.