Vets' Attorney in Bisphosphonate Suspension Says Drs. Followed the Rules

Bisphosphonates are sold under the brand names Tildren and Osphos | Ceva photo

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The attorney for veterinarians Scott Shell and Barbara Hippie, who have been provisionally suspended by the Horse Racing Integrity and Welfare Unit (HIWU) for possession of bisphosphonates and two other medications told the TDN Saturday morning that the veterinarians were operating under the rule as published.

“Drs. Shell and Hippie vehemently deny any violation of the veterinary rules as posted pursuant to HISA,” said Drew Mollica by phone Saturday. “We look forward an immediate hearing so that all of the facts may be explored and their good names and reputations restored. Dr. Shell's practice is known for its integrity, and any substances in his possession were used properly, and were in his possession pursuant to the rules.”

Covered horses are defined by the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Authority “any Thoroughbred horse, or any other horse made subject to the Act by election of the applicable State Racing Commission or the breed governing organization for such horse under section 3054(l), during the period: (A) beginning on the date of the horse's first Timed and Reported Workout at a Racetrack that participates in Covered Horseraces or at a training facility; and (B) ending on the date on which the horse is deemed retired.”

Dr. Shell's three-person practice, for which Dr. Hippie works, covers a HISA-covered area in Ohio—Thistledown–as well as West Virginia, where HISA is not in effect.

Drs. Shell and Hippie are charged with violating Rule 3214 (a), which reads:

Rule 3214. Other Anti-Doping Rule Violations Involving Banned Substances or Banned Methods

The following acts and omissions constitute Anti-Doping Rule Violations by the Covered Person(s) in question:

(a) Possession of a Banned Substance or a Banned Method, unless there is compelling justification for such Possession.

Mollica said that there is no violation of the rules for veterinarians possessing the substances to treat non-covered horses on farms or in other situations. “Both Dr. Shell and Hippie will show unequivocally that they were using the medication for the health and safety of non-covered horses. There's not one allegation of any banned substance being used on a covered horse.”

Earlier in September, Shell testified in person before a HIWU-related arbitration panel on behalf of trainer Dennis VanMeter, whose horse, Templement, had tested positive for isoxsuprine and phenylbutazone. VanMeter was facing a possible two-year ban as a result of the isoxsuprine positive alone.

At the hearing, it was established that Templement had been placed into one of trainer John Brown's stalls at Thistledown previously occupied by a pony routinely administered Isoxsuprine.

In the ruling, it notes that Shell “credibly testified that he and veterinarians in his practice had prescribed isoxsuprine to Mr. John Brown's pony Bucky for the last five years for a condition with its feet that would make it lame without medication.”

The arbitrator found the positive a likely instance of environmental contamination, and that VanMeter bore “no fault or negligence” for the isoxsuprine positive.

That hearing was on Sept. 12, a little over two weeks before Shell and his associate, Hippie, were allegedly found in possession of isoxsuprine and other banned substances, including bisphosphonates.

Additional reporting by Dan Ross. 

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