Bob Baffert Suspended After Failed Drug Test

By Ben Hamill - May 12 2021
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Bob Baffert Suspended After Failed Drug Test

Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert is playing the cancel culture victim card after Kentucky Derby longshot Medina Spirit failed to pass a routine drug test. The famous trainer revealed at the start of the week that Medina Spirit, which won the cash-rich event on May 1, tested positive for 21 picograms of betamethasone, which is an anti-inflammatory steroid. Baffert on Sunday denied all allegations, saying the prize horse had never been treated with the steroid.

The trainer has now been suspended indefinitely from Churchill Downs, pending the outcome of an investigation by the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission, the track announced only a few hours after Baffert’s press conference and denial. According to a statement issued by the track early Sunday afternoon, the tests had been conducted on the horse on Derby Day and were returned on Friday. Baffert was apparently notified of the outcome on Saturday.

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A Problem Of Location

Baffert has in the meantime stressed that he will appeal the results. He furthermore lashed out at Churchill Downs on Monday, accusing the track of having prematurely announced his suspension in a knee-jerk sort of way.

While declining to comment on Baffert’s outspoken allegations, a spokesperson for Churchill Downs has said that when trainers and/or owners fail to comply with medication or anti-doping rules and protocols, they jeopardise the safety of both the horses and the jockeys – not to mention the integrity of the sport and the event.

Although legal at certain levels, and at certain points in time before a race, the rules and protocols regarding betamethasone isn’t the same across all states.

What Happens Next?

At the time of the collecting of the sample from Medina Spirit, the specimen was divided into two. The next step will be for a lab test to analyse the second segment of the sample as part of the appeals process.

However, in the event that the second test confirms the result of the first test, Medina Spirit faces instant disqualification. If this does become a reality, then second-place finisher Mandaloun will be declared the new winner of the Kentucky Derby. Should this indeed emerge to be the end-result, then it would be the second time a result is overturned across the past three events.

But Baffert, too, has travelled down this particular road more than once before. While considered one of the best trainers ever, Baffert has in the past had several positive tests overturned. The latest of these had been as recently as last month, when the famous trainer had 2020 disqualification at Oaklawn Park dismissed by the Arkansas Racing Commission.

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