Suspensions Deferred as HISA Calls for Metformin Review

George Weaver | Sarah Andrew

Trainer George Weaver is one of several trainers whose horses have tested positive for metformin who will have their suspensions deferred as the Board of Directors of the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Authority has requested additional review of the drug which is heavily prescribed and used to treat diabetes in people.

“In line with HISA's Anti-Doping and Medication Control requirements, metformin is included in the Prohibited Substances List because there is no recognized therapeutic use for the substance in horses involved in Thoroughbred racing,” HISA Board Chairman Charles Scheeler said in a Tuesday release from the organization. “In addition, HIWU has intelligence that some horsemen may be using metformin to try and gain a performance advantage. However, there is limited scientific information available regarding the substance's use in horses. The HISA Board feels that further expert analysis on the topic is necessary to determine if any refinement of HISA's rules is appropriate.”

HISA and HIWU have asked the Racing Medication & Testing Consortium's Scientific Advisory Committee to conduct a review of the available science relating to metformin. During the review, which is expected to take months, metformin will remain on the prohibited substances list and its presence will result in the automatic disqualification of race results of the relevant covered horse.

Weaver faced a two-year suspension after Anna's Wish (Dialed In) returned a positive for metformin following the Cicada S. in March. Through his attorney, Drew Mollica, Weaver had argued the positive was a result of external contamination and that the groom who cares for the horse takes metformin.

Weaver's provisional suspension will be lifted as of Wednesday, according to Mollica.

“George and I are over the moon that HISA has taken the position it has,” Mollica said Tuesday afternoon. “We have always believed that George and Anna's Wish were the victim of contamination and the draconian penalties they sought were so out of line that it shocked the conscience and I am glad in a bittersweet way that our exposure on this subject has led to an introspection and scientific look at an issue that needed correction. We look forward to further guidance and George being fully exonerated. George will now start the process of repairing his public image and putting his stable back together.”

A representative from HISA responded to an inquiry from TDN about how the policy change might affect trainer Jonathan Wong, who was suspended for two years and fined $25,000 for a 2023 post-race metformin positive.

“Previously resolved cases are not affected by this policy change,” said the representative.

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