HISA In Depth: The Procedures Surrounding A Provisional Suspension

Saratoga hotwalker | Sarah Andrew

Editor's note: This is the latest in a series in the TDN to help industry members better understand the procedures under the new HISA and HIWU regulations.

TDN: Please explain the rules on what happens during a Provisional Suspension. Are my employees still allowed to care for my horses? Can my assistant trainer be in charge? Or do I have to have them moved to an entirely new barn with new help?

HISA:It is true that there have been some changes in the procedures surrounding a Provisional Suspension, along with a lot of misinformation. Here is what happens when your horse tests positive for a Banned (not Controlled) Substance.

First, when you receive notification of a positive test, you can decide if you want to have the split, or B sample, tested.

If you do want to have it tested:

  • Your Provisional Suspension will not start until your B sample result comes back. During this time, you may continue to train and race your horses without interruption.
  • You must pay the B sample analysis fee ($2,000) within seven calendar days of requesting it. In cases of financial hardship, a payment plan may be available.
  • If your B sample result does not confirm the A sample finding, the case against you is dismissed and you are refunded the $2,000 for the B sample analysis.
  • If your B sample result confirms the A, you will be allowed to race any horses that you had already entered prior to notification of the B sample confirmation. In all other respects, your Provisional Suspension goes into effect when you are notified of the B sample results.

If you do not want to have the B sample tested:

  • You may race any horses entered to race prior to Notification of the positive test.
  • However, in all other respects, your Provisional Suspension goes into effect when you either waive your right to have the B sample tested or do not notify HIWU of your decision within five days of being notified of the A sample result.

It should be noted that there are exceptions to the opportunity to postpone the implementation of a Provisional Suspension:

  • There is a subset of Banned Substances that will trigger an immediate Provisional Suspension upon notice of the A sample result.
  • If a trainer has more than one horse test positive for the same Banned Substance within a six-month period or has received notices for potential violations related to a Banned Substance in addition to a positive test result (e.g., possession or use), they are not eligible for the delayed imposition of a Provisional Suspension.

TDN: What happens when your Provisional Suspension goes into effect?

HISA: You and your staff can continue looking after the horses under your care, however, these horses cannot breeze or be entered to race unless they are transferred to another responsible person (a trainer, for example) in a bona fide transfer approved by the stewards and registered in the HISA Portal.

You also:
a) must take down or cover any personal signage bearing your name or related to your operations where horses are located at the racetrack
b) cannot claim horses or bring new horses into your barn
c) cannot be employed within the Thoroughbred horseracing industry in any other capacity where you come into contact with covered horses (including, but not limited to acting as an agent for an owner or working as an exercise rider.
d) After the imposition of the Provisional Suspension, you can request a Provisional Suspension Hearing (limited to the issue of whether to lift the suspension) or a final hearing to conclude your case as soon as possible. A Provisional Suspension Hearing may be convened as soon as 48 hours after it is requested.

TDN: How long is my suspension for a banned substance?

HISA: A first offense for the presence (positive test result) or possession of a Banned Substance may result in a suspension of up to two years. The suspension may be shortened based on the specific circumstances of the case.

For example, the arbitrator hearing a case may issue a shorter suspension in their Final Decision based on the Covered Person's degree of fault for the positive test result or possession.

Suspensions may also be shortened if, the Covered Person:
1) agrees to an admission and acceptance of Consequences, or
2) provides Substantial Assistance to HIWU.

Time served under a Provisional Suspension is counted toward any final suspension (period of Ineligibility).


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