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Details of a secret sting that caught disgraced harness racing trainer Jesse Alford injecting two horses with a prohibited substance have emerged at a hearing where integrity officials called for him to be banned from the sport for nine years. Alford appeared at a penalty hearing before the Judicial Control Authority at Addington Raceway on Wednesday after pleading guilty to two charges of administering a prohibited substance on race day and one charge of attempting to administer a prohibited substance. At the hearing it was revealed that Racing Integrity Unit (RIU) investigators planted a hidden camera near the Woodend Beach stables the 30-year-old shared after receiving a tip he was doping horses. On February 25 they caught him red-handed as he injected two horses, Johnny Nevits and Jimmy Cannon, with a substance, and attempted to tube one of them, two hours before they were due to race at the NZ Metropolitan Trotting Club meet at Addington Raceway. Tubing is an illegal process that allows a chemical solution to be administered to a horse to improve its stamina. The hidden camera footage was among evidence presented at Wednesday's hearing. According to the summary of facts, Alford injected Jimmy Cannon in the neck using a syringe filled with 10 millilitres of formalin, which contains about 10 per cent formaldehyde, while another person, whose name is suppressed, held the horse by its head collar. Read the full story click here!   by Sam Sherwood Stuff

View Fines and Suspensions for the week of January 15, 2021 as reported to the USTA by harness racing commissions in the United States. This bulletin reports actions that have been taken by the USTA and rulings as submitted by the various racing commissions in an abbreviated form; we are not responsible for the accuracy or timeliness of such information. For full ruling text, or if you have questions or concerns about the information found in this report, please contact the racing commission where the ruling was issued. All reported rulings, current and past, may be found by using Pathway, the USTA’s official database. Although there is no charge for this information, a USTA account is required. For a list of archived bulletins, click here. Looking for Canadian Rulings? View rulings posted at Standardbred Canada. This information is collected and posted by Standardbred Canada. The USTA assumes no liability for errors or omission. Michele Kopiec, USTA Racetrack Operations & Licensing Manager  

Happy New Year, and welcome to 2021. While the holiday season normally is a quiet one for harness racing, that was not the case most recently. On the evening of Monday, Dec. 21, 2020, the Horseracing Integrity & Safety Act (HISA) was passed by both the Senate and the House of Representatives as part of a 5,539 page omnibus spending bill. President Trump signed the bill into law several days later. Here's what every USTA member should know. *HISA is scheduled to go into effect no later than July 1, 2022. The Federal Trade Commission will oversee a rule-making process that eventually will establish and approve the medication control and racetrack safety programs to be enforced by the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Authority (Authority). Letters have already gone out to Thoroughbred stakeholders asking recipients to suggest nominees for the Authority's board of directors. *The entity will be costly to the industry, but that price has yet to be determined. The new law stipulates that the Authority initially will be funded by loans taken out to fund its expenses, which will then be repaid by fees assessed to the state racing commissions. It is widely believed that a per-start surcharge will be implemented. *The United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) is identified within the new law as the medication control enforcement body that will be the foundation of the Authority. *The new law does not specifically mention harness racing, and, indeed, some proponents of the legislation frequently questioned why the USTA was opposing a measure that did not include Standardbreds. However, the law contains an opt-in provision for each state racing commission to elect to have additional breeds covered by the law, and the financial implications for state racing commissions, as expressed clearly in a September press release from the Association of Racing Commissioners International (https://www.arci.com/2020/09/federal-bill-may-incentivize-states-to-defund-anti-doping-and-medication-rule-enforcement/), are such that many commissions will have no choice except to bring Standardbred and Quarter Horse racing into the federal fold. *The new law effectively removes medication control from the state racing commissions. The commissions will continue to perform all other traditional functions, including licensing and general oversight. State racing licenses will still be required for participants, and it is likely that a national license also will be required for owners, trainers, etc. *The new law specifies that all race day medication, including Lasix, is to be phased out and ultimately prohibited. It does allow for a Lasix study to be performed, but for any changes to be implemented, the entire nine-person board of directors must unanimously agree that the following conditions are met: 1. That the modification is warranted. 2. That the modification is in the best interests of horse racing. 3. That furosemide has no performance enhancing effect on individual horses. 4. That public confidence in the integrity and safety of horse racing would not be adversely affected by the modification. Given that all four conditions are subjective, rather than objective, and that all nine handpicked board members, rather than a majority, must be in agreement in order for the policy to be changed, it's probably safe to say that Lasix will be off the table in any harness racing jurisdiction that opts into the Authority. *In addition to medication control, use of the whip/crop also would be regulated by the Authority as it is considered a racetrack safety issue. Other matters under the racetrack safety umbrella likely will include track surface composition and conditioning, in addition to pre-race examination and testing. There remains a long road ahead as the enactment of the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act is contemplated. The USTA, under advisement from its attorneys, remains convinced that the new law is unconstitutional, and has grave concerns about its potential impact upon the harness racing industry. The Association continues to evaluate this issue and explore its options. Further developments will be reported as they occur. Dan Leary Director of Marketing and Communications

Columbus, OH – Following is a response from USTA harness racing President Russell Williams on statement made Monday (Dec. 28) by the Meadowlands supporting the recently passed Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act: “Mr. Gural’s central message seems to be that he would like to see harness racing brought within the jurisdiction of the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act (HISA) and that ‘we can modify the law next year to meet our needs, which are considerably different than the Thoroughbreds’ so that we can ‘live with’ HISA. “HISA supporters refused to countenance the slightest modification during more than three years of USTA effort to get something that we could live with. There is no reason to think that next year would be any different. “HISA is unconstitutional and is very unlikely to withstand the legal challenges that will be forthcoming if an attempt is made to apply it to harness racing.” from the USTA Communications Department   Following is the Meadowlands’ statement supporting the HISA: East Rutherford, NJ — The Meadowlands supports the inclusion of the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act (HISA) in the 2020 Omnibus Appropriations Bill. The Omnibus passed through both houses of Congress last week and was signed into law by President Trump on Sunday. “The HISA is important to all of horse racing to demonstrate that we are addressing the problems that have plagued the sport for the last several decades. It is clear the past and current policies do not work,” said Meadowlands Chairman Jeff Gural. “Virtually all the horsemen that I have asked support trying to eliminate trainers that drug the horses. Having the Federal government involved will put some teeth into the effort to stop them as the indictments and subsequent arrests of last March showed. “It seems inconceivable that in 2022 every Thoroughbred racetrack will have uniform rules and be governed by this legislation while every Standardbred racetrack will continue to be governed by the states despite the fact that 27 of the 29 people indicted earlier this year were associated with Standardbred racing and only two were Thoroughbred trainers. “Hopefully we can work with the USTA to modify the law next year to meet our needs which are considerably different than the Thoroughbreds. If the USTA continues to oppose the legislation it would be our intention to ask the Racing Commissions in New York and New Jersey to allow us to opt in to the legislation since it does provide that option. “I remain confident that the majority of the issues that concern the Standardbred industry can be addressed and adjusted to where we can live with them.” Details on the HISA and its passage are available by visiting the Water Hay Oats Alliance (WHOA) website and consider joining that organization while you’re on the site. It is free to join. The Water Hay Oats Alliance is a grassroots movement of like-minded individuals who support the passage of federal legislation to prohibit the use of performance-enhancing drugs in the sport of horse racing.

East Rutherford, NJ - The Meadowlands supports the inclusion of the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act (HISA) in the 2020 Omnibus Appropriations Bill.   The Omnibus passed through both houses of Congress last week and was signed into law by President Trump on Sunday. "The HISA is important to all of horse racing to demonstrate that we are addressing the problems that have plagued the sport for the last several decades. It is clear the past and current policies do not work.   "Virtually all the horsemen that I have asked support trying to eliminate trainers that drug the horses. Having the Federal government involved will put some teeth into the effort to stop them as the indictments and subsequent arrests of last March showed.   "It seems inconceivable that in 2022 every thoroughbred racetrack will have uniform rules and be governed by this legislation while every standardbred racetrack will continue to be governed by the states despite the fact that 27 of the 29 people indicted earlier this year were associated with standardbred racing and only two were thoroughbred trainers.   "Hopefully we can work with the USTA to modify the law next year to meet our needs which are considerably different than the thoroughbreds. If the USTA continues to oppose the legislation it would be our intention to ask the Racing Commissions in New York and New Jersey to allow us to opt in to the legislation since it does provide that option.   "I remain confident that the majority of the issues that concern the Standardbred industry can be addressed and adjusted to where we can live with them," said Meadowlands Chairman Jeff Gural. Details on the HISA and its passage are available by visiting the "WHOA" website and consider joining that organization while you're on the site. It is free to join. The Water Hay Oats Alliance (WHOA) is a grassroots movement of like- minded individuals who support the passage of federal legislation to prohibit the use of performance-enhancing drugs in the sport of horse racing.    

View Fines and Suspensions for the week of December 18, 2020 as reported to the USTA by harness racing commissions in the United States. This bulletin reports actions that have been taken by the USTA and rulings as submitted by the various racing commissions in an abbreviated form; we are not responsible for the accuracy or timeliness of such information. For full ruling text, or if you have questions or concerns about the information found in this report, please contact the racing commission where the ruling was issued. All reported rulings, current and past, may be found by using Pathway, the USTA’s official database. Although there is no charge for this information, a USTA account is required. For a list of archived bulletins, click here. Looking for Canadian Rulings? View rulings posted at Standardbred Canada. This information is collected and posted by Standardbred Canada. The USTA assumes no liability for errors or omission. Michele Kopiec, USTA Racetrack Operations & Licensing Manager

Harness racing trainer Rene Allard has been included in a superseding indictment filed in federal court last week against Louis Grass, Donato Poliseno, Thomas Guido III, and Richard Banca. All defendants have entered not guilty pleas to one count each of drug adulteration and misbranding conspiracy for their role in what prosecutors say was a scheme to “manufacture, distribute, and receive adulterated ad misbranded PEDs and to secretly administer those PEDs to racehorses under scheme participants' control.” The allegations in the Dec. 3 indictment are nearly identical to those in the indictment filed against Grasso, Poliseno, Guido and Banca in February and March of this year. The timing of the indictments and arrests earlier in the year coincides with a larger case also from the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York into alleged doping schemes utilized by Thoroughbred trainers Jorge Navarro and Jason Servis. At that time, a complaint was filed against Allard but prosecutors requested several extensions of time in the case throughout the spring and summer. The complaint details Allard's involvement in the alleged scheme with his co-defendants, as recounted by FBI special agent Bruce Turpin. To read the full article by Natalie Voss in the Paulick Report click on this link.  

Columbus, OH - In a presentation made by Dr. Clara Fenger at the Association of Racing Commissioners International Model Rules Committee Meeting in New Orleans, La., on Thursday (Dec. 3), she described some unexpectedly high serum concentration levels found in experimental horses that were demonstrated to be caused by environmental contamination in the study she submitted as part of her proposal. As a result, Dr. Fenger, on behalf of the North American Association of Racetrack Veterinarians, who is the sponsor of the proposal, called for "alternative penalties for drug positives that are likely to result from environmental contamination and unlikely to have a relevant effect on the animal. Among the biggest environmental substance offenders are dexamethasone and betamethasone." The U.S. Trotting Association, based upon the recommendation of the Harness Racing Medication Consortium and the National Horsemen's Benevolent & Protective Association, are in support of this proposal. The usage of Dexamethasone (DXM) done in Dr. Fenger's research utilized 20 mg administered at 48 and 72 hours out, where measurements were made and studied. From that it appears there is the likelihood of a positive test at a risk of 1 out of 50 from resultant environmental contamination and even more significantly at levels in and of themselves having no pharmacological effect at the current penalty level of 5 pg/mL. The recommended solution stems from the problem that the current post-race threshold level is set too low at 5 pg/mL of DXM. At this current threshold level, there have been studies by Dr. Soma and others that have found this unexplained high risk of what could be labeled a false positives. The research demonstrated these false DXM positives even where the administration was extended out to 96 hours. The current rules at this 5 pg/mL level mandate a disqualification, loss of purse and a $10,000 fine. As a result of this research, Dr. Fenger recommends that the threshold of 5 pg/mL, but no more than 100 pg/mL at 72-hour withdrawal, should trigger a different penalty schedule due to the lack of any pharmacological effect. Under this proposal, if anywhere from 5 pg/mL up to a 100 pg/mL level is detected in a sample, that a penalty be imposed that would not constitute a drug violation or result in a disqualification, loss of purse and the $10,000 fine. By this recommendation, in those situations for a first offense between 5 pg/mL but less than 100 pg/mL there would be a warning; the second violation would generate a small fine and the third a fine of 10 percent of the advertised purse. For example, under this proposal a penalty for a third DXM positive of less than 100 pg/mL in a race with a $1 million purse would result in the reduction of the winner's share by $100,000. For any result above the 100pg/mL level, the resultant penalty would remain the same as it currently exists at the 5 pg/mL level, which is a drug violation, disqualification, loss of the total purse and a $10,000 fine. The proposal was referred to the ARCI's Drug Testing Standards and Practices Committee for review and recommendation. To read Dr. Fenger's complete proposal, click here (see Agenda Item #5 on p. 28). To view the summary of Dr. Fenger's study, click here. To read Dr. Fenger's complete study, click here. Adequately establishing contamination risk in drug products from the USTA Communications Department

On December 1, 2020, the CPMA issued the following harness racing Industry Notice concerning Medroxyprogesterone The Canadian Pari-Mutuel Agency (CPMA) is advising veterinarians and race-horse trainers and owners that medroxyprogesterone is a prohibited substance in Canada because its use has been associated with deaths in horses and approved veterinary products containing this substance are not available in Canada. In addition, there is published information supporting its lack of efficacy in suppressing estrus, its main reason for use. Products containing medroxyprogesterone should not be administered to a race-horse for any reason. Medroxyprogesterone can be detected in post-race samples for an extended period of time, and may result in a positive test. Testing for medroxyprogesterone will begin on June 1, 2021. The CPMA strongly recommends that you consult your veterinarian on any decision to administer supplements or medications to a horse. If you have any questions, please contact the CPMA at 1-800-268-8835 or aafc.cpmawebacpm.aac@canada.ca. Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario

The Australian Government National Measurement Institute (NMI) has advised HRNSW that Cobalt above the threshold of 100 micrograms per litre in urine has been detected in the urine sample taken from BONZA GUY following its win in race 2, the YANCO ALLSERVICEMENS CLUB PACE (1758 metres) conducted at Leeton on Tuesday 18 August 2020. The Australian Racing Forensic Laboratory (ARFL) has also advised HRNSW that heptaminol was detected in that urine sample. The reserve portion and control solution have been confirmed by Racing Analytical Services Limited (RASL) in Victoria. In addition, the Australian Racing Forensic Laboratory (ARFL) has advised HRNSW that heptaminol was also detected in the post-race blood sample taken from BONZA GUY following that same race and the “B” sample has been confirmed by RASL. Acting under the provisions of Australian Harness Racing Rule 183, HRNSW Stewards have suspended the Trainer’s licence of Mr Robert Garrett. Mr Garrett provided submissions to HRNSW Stewards as to why the provisions of AHRR 183 should not be imposed. Acting under the provisions of Rule 183A, it was also determined that BONZA GUY, the horse subject of the certificate, shall not be nominated or compete in any race until the outcome of an inquiry or investigation. Mr Garrett has not been charged with any breach of the Australian Harness Racing Rules and has been advised of his rights of appeal against the imposition of Rule 183. HRNSW Stewards have commenced an investigation into these sample results and an Inquiry will be scheduled in due course.   HRNSW

If anyone chooses to buy into The Jockey Club mandates imposed upon harness racing; that seek to shove this Federal bill down our throats based upon what they think is good for us because it's good for them, then I guess we could be satisfied with whatever The Jockey Club comes up with. Further, if one so believes, then one should be counted with those who believe that the USTA has not been negotiating, or not expending a great deal of effort for the best interest of its membership and our industry. You can believe that the hundreds of hours expended by USTA officers, directors, staff, lobbyists and counsel over the last three years has been nonexistent from the debate to negotiation stages on this Federal Bill. Blindly believe as anyone chooses but the reality is that simply is not true. Besides working to achieve recognition for the differences in our breed, bet you didn’t know that the USTA has been actively negotiating with thoroughbred interests even on a state level for recognition in regulations suited to our industry. The USTA has been pro active negotiating for our breed on state and federal levels, which work it has put front and center as its priority to protect the harness racing industry.   Just to give you an idea of what has also been taking place on the state level while we worked for similar goals on the National level. The concept of a National Racing Compact was advanced in a number of states that would have put us under thoroughbred umbrella similar to what the  Horse Racing Integrity and Safety Act will also do as a practical matter. That effort was initially and forcefully opposed by harness horsemen’s associations. Then with the aid of the USTA, a compromise was not only suggested, but crafted for the good of the harness industry. The USTA worked and actually drafted a state bill that would have put harness into the National Compact on the same footing as the thoroughbred industry. That would be with the statutory recognition that harness would have a separate state commission-appointed delegate to the Compact. That each breed would have separate delegates and each breed would be recognized for its differences and its unique performance model. The delegates would not be bound by, but would take input on medication rules regulations  from the separate breed representatives and enact regulations suited to each breed as those delegates saw fit. Under the National Racing Compact compromise offered by the USTA, the harness delegation could not force any regulations on the thoroughbreds, or vice versa, unless the other breed’s delegates consented. For example, if a regulation’s withdrawal time and threshold level was scientifically shown to have applicability to each breed, the other breed’s delegates could adopt it. Regulations would not be forced upon a breed that did not fit its own performance model. Unfortunately, while the Compact was deemed to work well for the thoroughbreds, when an offer was made for the same formula for harness separately, negotiations broke off despite all our work. What  the USTA sought in those negotiations was a simple equal and fair agreement on National Racing Compact legislation that would be as fair and acceptable to the harness industry as it was for the thoroughbred industry. Simply, everything was the same in the statute that was applicable to them would be applicable to our industry, but on a parallel line. Naively we thought that this should get a done deal. It seemed fair, after all we race more than they do and our vets treat our horses quite differently often doing multiple joints bilaterally. The USTA’s work was rejected by the thoroughbreds. No reason given. Over many months and before the new version of the “Integrity” Act of 2020 popped up, harness offered that deal on the National Compact in our negotiations. The same kind of effort was put into the Federal Bill but with even greater intensity and work. The thoroughbred representatives refused any negotiation and the USTA received the very same response it was getting to the Compact offer it made. This despite the harness industry’s efforts spearheaded by the USTA over the last three years and 300 hours of meetings to factor fairness for our breed into the Federal bill. The result, the same, No deal. The thoroughbreds, one has to think, will benefit from our payments under the new Federal bill based upon our number of starts as compared to theirs and at a cost to our horsemen of initially $50 per start. Much of our money will be for studying how to prevent thoroughbred breakdowns by improving racing surfaces. Additionally, the cause for removing Lasix is based upon the fiction that the therapeutic medication is the cause of those breakdowns and the further fiction that it masks other medications, when today we can find medications down to the picogram in most horses on Lasix.  Safety and Integrity are nice buzz words… but don’t be fooled, because all the 2020 Act will provide the harness industry is a massive fee assessment towards the cure of someone else’s problems, and a brand new set of regulations that will provide solace for the pet peeves of someone else’s industry, and the potential destruction of ours. The USTA is not so naive to think that once this law is passed, if indeed it might be, that somehow our negotiations will continue and the USTA will succeed in achieving fairness for our members. Make no mistake, once enacted we will pay under this law in many ways. With 1 seat at a table of 27 and you can see the degree of input we will have in effectuating necessary reforms in either the law or its application. For those who think differently, one can only wish you are correct. Our experience teaches us differently. From Joe Faraldo, chairman of USTA District 8A  

The Hambletonian Society supports the proposed Horse Racing Integrity and Safety Act (HISA), the latest version of which is S.R. 4547, introduced on September 9, 2020. The Society believes that the current system of oversight and regulation of horse racing needs and demands changes in structure and execution and that the proposed legislation has the potential to bring new found confidence and trust to horseplayers, owners and all other participants. While some of the provisions of the original bill caused legitimate concerns for the Standardbred industry, since, among other concerns, it provided for "one size fits all" rules for all breeds, the amended bill now recognizes the uniqueness of other breeds, including Standardbreds. To be represented effectively, the Standardbred industry and its leaders must be united in their approach to the Horse Racing Integrity and Safety Authority to be established under HISA, so as to ensure that therapeutic medication protocols, funding mechanisms and representation, are appropriate and practical for the harness racing industry. Universal thresholds and withdrawal times, as well as standardized testing procedures for permitted therapeutic medications, will allow honest and ethical breeders, trainers and veterinarians to care for race horses in a more consistent manner. This proposed legislation also greatly increases the chances of detecting and apprehending unscrupulous and unethical people who currently operate within industry-regulated boundaries. The Society urges all participants and organizations in the Standardbred Industry to familiarize themselves with the contents of the amended bill, (Amended HISA Bill SR4547) and support this groundbreaking legislation. There is an opening to be part of a solution that will allow harness racing to be treated fairly and be the best that it can be as we move forward. Sincerely, John Campbell President & Chief Executive Officer Jim Simpson Chairman of the Executive Committee   The Hambletonian Society Executive Committee Frank Antonacci Thomas A. Charters E.T. Gerry Jr. Ted Gewertz Fred W. Hertrich III Charles E. Keller III Michael G. Kimelman Seth Rosenfeld George I. Segal   The full board of the Hambletonian Society, Inc. can be found here: Hambletonian Society Board Below is the link to the House floor if you would like to watch the debate on the HR 1754, the Horseracing Integrity & Safety Act.  It should begin around 1pm.  There is 40 minutes of debate, divided between Reps and Dems.   Votes will be stacked beginning at 6:30, and you can watch the live vote at the same link. live.house.gov/

Since the indictment of more than two dozen thoroughbred and harness racing trainers, assistants, veterinarians, and pharmacists in connection with a horse doping ring this March, rumors have swirled that more names could be forthcoming in connection with the federal investigation. Speaking at a status conference for the case on Tuesday morning, Assistant U.S. Attorney Andrew Adams told U.S. District Judge Judge Mary Kay Vyskocil that a superseding indictment could be around the corner, but did not provide details as to the timing. “We are looking seriously at superseding indictments,” said Adams. “For the moment, and I made this point at least to some defense counsel previously, the nature of what we're looking at is largely in the same kind of criminal conduct as what is in the current indictment. We're looking at expanding timeframes for certain of the conspiracies. We're looking at potentially adding different statutory charges with respect to certain of the defendants. What I do not anticipate for the moment is that those superseding indictments, if and when they come, would require the production of some substantial large set of materials not already produced to date or already in the queue of things we expect to produce.” A superseding indictment is one which replaces an existing indictment, and could add charges against already-named defendants and/or could name new defendants. Vyskocil reminded Adams that the court would not hold things up while the government finishes its investigation. Adams said he understood and that he would not ask to hold up the proceedings for that reason. The charges on the current indictments, which names former top trainers Jorge Navarro and Jason Servis, among others, focus on drug adulteration, misbranding, and conspiracy. The indictments claim a network of horsemen, veterinarians and pharmacy reps sold, distributed and used drugs in racehorses for the purpose of performance enhancement. Other than a potential superseding indictment, there are not likely to be many updates in the case until late fall. Currently, attorneys are going through the discovery process, meaning each side is requesting and providing requested evidence in the case. Adams said he believes his office will be able to provide the last of the discovery material requested by defendants by the end of September. Already, the office has provided some 90 gigabytes' worth of data to all defendants in three different volumes, and has fielded 20 additional individual requests. That data includes the results of 30 different search warrants, intercepted phone calls and text messages, geolocation information for various devices, email accounts, file transfer accounts, inventory lists, shipping records, veterinary records, drug promotional and marketing material, and much more. The Federal Bureau of Investigation is still extracting data from devices like cell phones and tablets seized from defendants at the time of their arrests. Adams mentioned that labs inside and outside the United States had been asked to conduct testing on samples related to the case, although it was not immediately clear whether that referred to samples of substances seized in searches of pharmacies or biological samples from horses, or both. Those results were not all known to the federal government as of yet, and some defense attorneys expressed a desire to work out some sort of split sampling process where possible, acknowledging there was a finite amount of some samples available to test. After the government produces requested evidence, it is sent to a coordinating discovery attorney for organization and distribution. One defense attorney pointed out that it generally takes the coordinating discovery attorney roughly a month to process large document releases before they are given over to defense counsel, so a late September target for discovery completion means they will get a look at the last of the evidence in early November. Vyskocil scheduled a status conference for Nov. 19. Most participants on the call agreed it would be impractical to set a trial date or motion schedule until the defense has seen all the government's evidence against their clients. Read more about the federal indictments in this March 9 piece from the Paulick Report. By Natalia Ross Reprinted with permission of The Paulick Report

A young man will join his uncle in prison after they both instigated a major drug operation in Ballarat, making and selling pills at night clubs. Nathan Weightman, 23, was sentenced to 16 months' imprisonment at the County Court of Victoria on Thursday for trafficking drugs and possessing a pill press. For the first time, The Courier can reveal his uncle, Ian Weightman, was sentenced to two-and-a-half years' imprisonment in April last year for the same Offenses. Three years ago the Weightmans started making and selling thousands of inexpensive pills, along with then 19-year-old DJ Peter Moore. The operation was based at Ian's Redman house where a pill press was set up to make the drugs, which Moore sold at Ballarat nightclubs. Some of the pills contained low levels of the drug MDMA. The Weightman men made a batch of pills emblazoned with Transformer logos, while on another day Moore helped Nathan work the press to make 2000 pills. On another occasion, Nathan turned up at the Golden Point home he shared with Moore carrying a bag of 2000 yellow pills marked with Homer Simpson emblem. Three months after starting the drug business, police searched the trio's houses in October, uncovering a large quantity of pills and powder, cash and drug paraphernalia associated with trafficking. Nathan persisted with a plea of not guilty for two-and-a-half years before he admitted to dealing the drugs and possessing the tablet press. County Court Judge John Smallwood told Nathan his offending must be regarded as serious. "Clearly over that period of time a very significant number of pills were manufactured by you and your uncle for the purpose of selling for profit and Mr Moore was involved in all that in terms of trafficking and the distribution," Judge Smallwood said. "Yours is a situation where it's clear that you were very much involved in it "You were certainly aware of the potential consequences of this "You are to be sentenced for a serious example of trafficking over an extended period of time where you knew what you were doing and you were an instigator and directly involved in it" The Judge told Nathan he had pleaded guilty late in the Court process after he was committed to stand trial. The Judge said he took into account Nathan's good work ethic, family support and his rehabilitation "which means the risk of you re-offending should be low, depending on the future". He said Nathan had been on bail for the past two-and-a-half years, which included a curfew from 9pm to 6am. Nathan, who was born in Ballarat and moved to Mildura, became a successful harness racing driver after he obtained his license when he was 16. "I am very aware you are still a very young man, I am very aware you haven't offended since (2017) and I am very aware that you have no prior convictions," Judge Smallwood said. Nathan was sentenced to 16 months' imprisonment with a no-parole period of eight months. He has served 14 days of the sentence. If he did not plead guilty, he would have been jailed for two years with a minimum of 15 months, according to the Judge. Nathan pleaded guilty to two counts of trafficking and one count each of possessing a tablet press and dealing with proceeds of crime. A suppression order on Ian's case was lifted after his nephew's sentence on Thursday. The 62 year-old was sentenced to two and a half years' imprisonment in April last year. He pleaded guilty to trafficking and processing a tablet press. Moore was sentenced to 10 months' youth detention in May, 2018, after pleading guilty to drug trafficking and possessing a pill press. By Erin Williams Reprinted with permission of The Ballarat Courier

Department of Agriculture funded Veterinary Welfare Commission leads Irish Harness Racing industry to become world leader for horse welfare and anti-doping. In light of the Programme for Government set out by Fine Gael, Fianna Fail and the Green Party to have funding to the equine industry be related to horse welfare outcomes the newly established Veterinary and Welfare Commission (VWC), funded by the Department of Agriculture to help regulate the integrity of the Irish Harness Racing industry, are announcing that all regulatory medical records for the Irish standardbred community will be moving from paper to a digital system. This will ensure that records can not be lost, damaged or tampered with once closed on the system greatly increasing transparency and accountability in relation to anti-doping and equine welfare for the sport of harness racing across Ireland. Together, thanks to support from the Irish Department of Agriculture, VWC and the Irish Harness Racing Association (IHRA) have commissioned world leaders in anti-doping and equine welfare software, Equine MediRecord, and are mandating this system for all of the horses that fall under their regulatory scope. While other regulators have switched to digital records for horses in training and competition, Harness Racing under the remit of the IHRA and its integrity arm, the VWC, is now the first equine sport to make it a mandatory regulation that digital medical records be maintained by breeders and keepers of standardbred horses, ensuring a continuous flow of data on the horse throughout its life. This is the first time that an equine industry will ensure that the records of a horse are digitally kept from birth to death. It is the first equine sport to do so, anywhere in the world. These changes ensure proper tracking of medical histories, making it easier for vets, trainers, keepers and owners to ensure better outcomes for horses under their care. This ensures that Irish Standardbred Industry is a world leader in animal welfare for all of its horses from birth to the end of their days.  “Funding for animal welfare in any sport that involves animals is always welcome and it is especially welcome in these formative years of the exciting sport of Harness Racing in Ireland” said Peadar Ó Scanaill, MVB, Chairman of the Veterinary and Welfare Commission. “Harness Racing in Ireland is growing and maturing into an extremely exciting equine racing sport and it has always set itself the highest and best of standards with regard to animal welfare from the very outset. It carries out all its racing on the track and it strives to instil public confidence in Harness Racing as it distances itself from any form of horses running on the road”. The VWC was established in 2015 by the IHRA as the integrity body within the sport of Harness Racing. Its funding comes from within the sport itself through a Memorandum of Understanding agreed with the Board of the IHRA with some financial assistance from the Department of Agriculture. Its aim is to ensure animal welfare reaches the highest standard possible and its mission is to instil public confidence both inside and outside the sport of Harness Racing in Ireland. Its role within the IHRA is to cover all aspects of the integrity of the sport of Harness Racing in Ireland, with similar duties to the Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board for thoroughbred racing.  The VWC, with this newly announced Department of Agriculture funding, boasts some of the top equine veterinarians in Ireland. Peadar Ó Scanaill, the founding head of the VWC, was the President of the Veterinary Council of Ireland in 2018 - 2019. The Veterinary Council is mandated by the government to regulate and manage the practice of all veterinary medicine and veterinary nursing in Ireland in the public interest. This means that Mr Ó Scanaill, MVB,  brings the perfect experience and expertise for this new regulatory role. He is joined by Marcus Swail, MVB, the founder of EquiVET and Team Ireland Equestrian Olympic team’s veterinary surgeon, who is the deputy head of the new VWC. The formation of the VWC is a great boost to ensuring and improving the integrity of the sport of Harness Racing in Ireland.  Pierce Dargan, CEO of Equine MediRecord stated, “We are delighted to see further steps towards better equine care in the world. We are proud and delighted that the VWC and the IHRA decided to partner with us for this project and we hope this will be the beginning of meaningful change that helps improve outcomes for horses and the industry as a whole.” The Irish Harness Racing Association is the internationally recognised governing body of harness racing in Ireland. It is a member of the Union of European Trotting (UET) and World Trotting Association. The IHRA works closely with the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (in Dublin) to develop the sport both domestically and internationally. Equine MediRecord is the global leader in equine anti-doping and horse welfare software. It currently operates in Ireland, the UK and France and recently partnered with the Arabian Racing Organisation (ARO) in the UK to make the ARO the first in Europe and second in the world to mandate electronic medical records be kept by their registered trainers. Equine MediRecord based on the Curragh, county  Kildare, has availed of many Local Enterprise Office Kildare financial and advisory supports as well as representing Kildare in the National Final for Ireland’s Best Young Entrepreneur Competition. For more information about Equine MediRecord, see: https://www.equinemedirecord.com/    

The Australian Anti-Doping Authority has taken an interest in the family of Bronson Xerri and its colourful history as it investigates criminal links around the supply of anabolic steroids following the Cronulla teenager’s positive drugs test. Xerri, 19, has been provisionally stood down and is facing a suspension of up to four years after returning a positive A-sample to the banned substances exogenous testosterone, androsterone, etiocholanolone and 5b-androstane-3a,17b-diol when target tested following a tip-off last November. While the doping violation is yet to be confirmed with a B sample, the attention of ASADA investigators is now very much on trying to establish whether there are criminal links to the distribution of the substances found in Xerri’s system. It was a year-long Australian Crime Commission investigation into sports, prohibited substances and organised crime that preceded the Cronulla and Essendon doping scandals in the last decade. According to a source with knowledge of ASADA's Xerri probe, there is a particular interest in the player's family. The Herald can reveal the Sharks youngster’s 28-year-old brother Troy was sentenced to an aggregate term of five years imprisonment in 2014 over drugs charges. Troy was initially one of eight men, including two teenagers, who were charged over drugs supply in south-west Sydney eight years ago. An array of illegal substances from prescription drugs including steroids, valium and xanax, ammunition and a bayonet knife were seized during raids on premises in Merrylands, Greystanes, Ermington and Granville. Police also found more than $50,000 in cash. It resulted in Troy Xerri facing Parramatta Local Court on charges of supplying a commercial quantity of a prohibited drug and take part in supply of a prohibited drug. His jail term included a non-parole period of two years and six months. ASADA investigators seized Bronson Xerri’s phone briefly this week to download data from it. A call to the Xerri home on Friday went unanswered. Xerri has previously spoken of the importance of his family, which has connections to the harness racing industry, during his rapid rugby league rise. His other older brother Dylan presented him with his maiden first-grade jersey before his NRL debut last year. To read the full article in The Sydney Morning Herald click on this link.

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