After “B Sample” Comes Back Positive, Weaver Faces Two-Year Suspension

George Weaver | Sarah Andrew

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The attorney representing trainer George Weaver has been informed by the Horseracing Integrity and Welfare Unit (HIWU) that a split sample taken from the horse Anna's Wish (Dialed In) has confirmed the earlier finding that the horse raced with the banned substance metformin during the Mar. 16 Cicada S. at Aqueduct.

Trainers whose horses have tested positive for what HIWU considers banned substances face suspensions of up to two years.

Weaver will be allowed to run horses that have already been entered, but cannot continue to enter horses and his stable must be disbanded.

Metformin is used to treat Type II diabetes in people. With more than 20 million patients taking it, metformin ranks as the nation's third-most-prescribed human medicine, according to the consumer healthcare website Healthgrades. That the drug is so widely used has raised the possibility that horses are testing positive for it because they have come into contact with individuals taking the drug. According to attorney Drew Mollica, the groom who was caring for Anna's Wish takes metformin.

Weaver is the seventh trainer to be hit with a metformin positive since HIWU took over drug testing and enforcement for most of the industry on May 22, 2023.

“It is unfathomable to me that we as an industry can allow this organization to simply take an axe to a man's career and his life and with the swing of that axe destroy it in a minute,” Mollica said. “It's beyond belief. Metformin should not be a banned substance and the groom is on metformin.”

Mollica said he will continue to fight the charges and that the first step will be his request for a provisional hearing with HIWU. However, even with Weaver having the right to an appeal, he cannot continue to train and his horses must go to other trainers.

“We got no heads up, no anything,” Mollica said. “You'd think that if the B sample came back positive they would call and say 'listen we're going to do this, but you have three days to take care of everything.' You'd think that's the way human beings would act. I have never dealt with a system like this before. There are 75 horses that George has that are spread around the country that need care. It would seem prudent to give us notice beforehand that this was about to happen. To the zealots that run this organization the well-being of those horses should be more paramount than a 'gotcha' letter.”

Alexa Ravit, Director of Communications and Outreach, addressed that point via email. “When a trainer is Provisionally Suspended, they can still oversee the care of the Covered Horses they train,” Ravit wrote. “Additionally, those horses are still permitted to jog and gallop. However, they cannot breeze or race unless they have been transferred to a different trainer. More information about restrictions under Provisional Suspensions can be found here: https://www.hiwu.org/education-and-resources/provisional-suspension-guidance. It should be noted that Weaver was notified of the metformin finding in the A Sample more than a month ago and that a Provisional Suspension would be imposed on him if B Sample analysis confirmed the A Sample finding.”

Ravit said that `oversee' meant that “a Provisionally Suspended trainer is permitted to go to the barn where their Covered Horses reside to care for them and/or direct their staff to care for them.”

Mollica said that HIWU has yet to give him an opportunity to discuss mitigating circumstances.

“I'm going to talk to George about that and we'll try to lift the suspension,” Mollica said. “This case is everything that's wrong with this system. They're just taking an axe to a guy and have just decided to destroy him.”

Weaver, a former assistant to Todd Pletcher, has had two other positive tests during his 22-year training career, for acepromazine and for promazine sulfoxide. In each instance, he was fined $300.

“George Weaver is not a cheater,” Mollica said.

Alex Bregman, the third baseman for the Houston Astros and for whom Weaver trains, defended his trainer on Twitter.

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