Stewards Hand Groom Suspension Related To Compounded Clenbuterol, No Action Taken Against Trainer

A Jan. 29 suspension of Danny Gibson, a licensed groom at Fair Grounds in New Orleans, La., may have gone largely unnoticed by many, but it was part of a larger case involving a compounded drug. The week before stewards suspended Gibson for the remainder of the 2020-21 meet, the track’s senior director of racing, Jason Boulet, was approached by a trainer who remains unidentified – both to the stewards and to the commission. The trainer, who does not stable at Fair Grounds, told Boulet he was approached by Gibson, who has worked as both a groom and hotwalker, and asked whether he wanted to purchase two items. Gibson showed him a bridle and a liquid in a white plastic bottle which contained clenbuterol, according to its labeling.

The trainer paid $150 for the items but then began to have second thoughts, wondering whether he could face consequences for buying them. The trainer brought the items to Boulet and identified Gibson.

When questioned by the stewards, Gibson admitted he had stolen both objects from tack rooms in other barns. The bridle came from the barn of Brendan Walsh, and the medication came from the barn of Chris Hartman. A stewards hearing was conducted and the ruling against Gibson was issued.

The plastic bottle did not bear the standard blue and white labeling of the FDA-approved form of clenbuterol sold as Ventipulmin Syrup, which can run close to $300 for a 330-milliliter bottle. Instead, it had one small sticker on it with the contact information for a Dr. Michael Stevens out of Edmond, Okla. The sticker included instructions for use, and the patient name “Smoking Memo.” It appeared that the bottle contained a compounded substance.

Compounded drugs are not approved by the Food and Drug Administration, and there are limited circumstances in which a drug may be legally compounded. Accepted circumstances include making a drug with a different route of administration (flavoring a medication for easier dosing, for example), providing emergency supply during a supply chain compromise, or making the drug in a different concentration from its mass manufactured version.

Louisiana has a rule on the books about compounded drugs. Title 35, Chapter 17 Section 1707 of the state’s administrative code reads, “Any substance or material for human or animal use, ingestion, or injection, or for testing purposes that is not formally approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration is prohibited.”

The rule does not outline possible penalties or detail whether stewards may take mitigating circumstances into effect when considering a potential violation of section 1707.

When questioned by stewards, Hartman explained that the medication had been prescribed for an unnamed offspring of Smoking Memo while the horse was training in Oklahoma. The horse had suffered a knee injury necessitating a lay-off and subsequently been loaded on a trailer along with Fair Grounds shippers, along with all its equipment and the bottle. The horse was offloaded along the route to the racetrack, but the bottle was left on the van and ended up in Hartman’s tack room, according to the trainer, who has made 73 starts at the track’s current meet and is 15th in the trainer standings.

According to stewards’ notes obtained by public record request, the stewards did not make further inquiries of Hartman and did not conduct any searches of his barn or person to verify whether any other compounded drugs were present. As of March 5, they indicated they considered the matter closed and planned no further inquiries.

Subsequent testing on the bottle by the Louisiana State University’s Equine Medication Surveillance Laboratory indicated that there were no other drugs detected in the bottle besides clenbuterol. While the bottle was not labeled with a concentration, the strength of FDA-approved Ventipulmin is 72.5 micrograms per milliliter. LSU’s testing showed the sample in the Gibson case contained a similar, if slightly higher concentration of about 85 micrograms per milliliter.

Churchill Downs, Inc., which owns Fair Grounds, conducted its own investigation into the incident. Dr. Will Farmer, equine medical director for CDI, indicated the ownership group had evicted Gibson from the Fair Grounds property and placed him on a no-entry list for all CDI properties. With regard to Hartman, Farmer said the track would defer to the stewards’ decision not to pursue further action.

“Fair Grounds Race Course is fully committed to the safety of our human and equine athletes and the integrity of our sport,” read a statement from Farmer. “We are aware of the Louisiana Racing Commission’s findings of a questionably compounded product that was uncovered on our backside and believe this activity jeopardizes the wellbeing of the horses and fairness in our sport and should not be tolerated. We have long advocated for strict regulations with respect to the use of medications to ensure that competitors are fit to race and the races are conducted fairly and with transparency.

“Circumstances like this are among the many reasons we herald the recently-passed Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act which will serve as a vehicle to establish and implement uniform medication rules and operational standards that will codify the culture of safety and integrity of which we are so firmly committed.”

Multiple calls to Hartman for comment were unreturned at press time.

The post Stewards Hand Groom Suspension Related To Compounded Clenbuterol, No Action Taken Against Trainer appeared first on Horse Racing News | Paulick Report.

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