Until horses live in a laboratory environment, environmental contamination will occur…hich means zero tolerance is impossible. “Zero Tolerance” is a great soundbite, but unrealistic. The recent final disqualifications of Charlatan and Gamine from their Oaklawn victories for minute levels of lidocaine are ridiculous. A lidocaine backpatch could easily be the source of such a tiny amount, as could a simple caslick procedure on a filly or a “no itch” topical ointment.
Let’s also consider the amount of the banned substance in their systems. Charlatan tested positive with 46 picograms of lidocaine and Gamine tested positive with 185 picograms of lidocaine. I don’t know the weight of either horse, but for the sake of simple math, let’s assume they each weigh 1000 pounds: 1000 pounds = 453,592 grams = 453,592,000 milligrams = 453,592,000,000,000,000 picograms
Do we really believe 185 picograms of any substance will have any effect on a 453,592,000,000,000,000 picogram horse?!
I am all for fair competition and am not an apologist for anyone that intentionally cheats or schemes to illegally beat the system–those trainers and vets should be banned for life. But let’s go beyond soundbites for the media (“Zero Tolerance”) and govern racing with realistic rules while pursuing truly effective measures and punishments. Stall cameras, track employed veterinarians, all meds delivered from track-owned pharmacies, etc., are better ways of controlling the delivery system. And of course one national set of rules would help.