Provisional Suspension Against Brion, Four Others, Dropped by HIWU

Keri Brion | Sarah Andrew

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Trainer Keri Brion, who was provisionally suspended by the Horseracing Integrity and Welfare Unit (HIWU) after a horse she trained allegedly tested positive for cocaine, has been cleared.

The suspension was lifted pursuant to HIWU Rule 3247 (e). The rule reads: “…if it considers it appropriate to do so on the specific facts of the case, the Agency may lift the Provisional Suspension.”

Suspensions that had been issued to R. McLane Hendriks, Carlos Milian, Javier Morzan and Guadalupe Munoz Elizondo were also lifted.

A full hearing in all five cases are still pending.

Like Brion, Hendriks was facing a cocaine positive. Milian had a horse test positive for the diuretic hydrochlorothiazide and Morzan and Elizondo had trainees test positive for metformin, a medication commonly prescribed in humans for type 2 diabetes.

It is not clear why the suspensions were lifted, but in the case of Brion, HIWU likely factored in the possibility that the positive test for cocaine was the result of environmental contamination. Brion, a former assistant to Jonathan Sheppard, was facing a suspension of up to two years.

The Brion-trained Chasing After You (Speightstown) tested positive after winning a Sept. 19 claiming race at Presque Isle Downs.

“Obviously, it's been a very stressful week,” Brion said. “I was totally blindsided by this. I don't give my horses cocaine. It's good that they are continuing to change protocols, what they do and how they handle things. It's just a shame that it has to happen through trial and error. In my case, I was written up in the TDN about being suspended for a banned substance. That's hard. I'm hopeful that it's all heading in the right direction. I think they are taking what they are learning from these situations and trying to make the system better. I am appreciative of that.”

Brion believes that this was a case of environmental contamination and that it emanated from the receiving barn at Presque Isle Downs.

“I believe it came through the receiving barn at Presque Isle,” she said. “Trainers are held 100% responsible and I'm all for being held responsible. But we don't scrub, clean and power wash receiving barns, so when we ship in, we don't have control over that. The receiving barns aren't clean. If we are going to be held to this level, zero tolerance, and everything falls back on us, then tracks need to make sure that the stalls we ship into are completely sanitized. And that's not the case at most of the tracks we go to.”

Brion noted that other trainers have found themselves in similar situations.

“I applaud what they are trying to do, but there have been a couple of positives where the levels are very low and it seems to be contamination,” she said. “We are not the bad guys. I have been training for only three years and when something like this happens, it really rocks you.”

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