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OHHA Comments On Racing Contract


Published: January 2, 2009 10:29 am ET

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This morning the Ontario Harness Horse Association issued the following release to the industry commenting on the 2009 racing contract with the Woodbine Entertainment Group.

OHHA does not support cheating at the races. OHHA does support the legal process that protects the rights of individuals in Canada. OHHA stands prepared to support its members when warranted. Maintaining those rights and abilities is at risk under the WEG demand that OHHA not participate in any way when a horseperson has been denied access to racing at Woodbine or Mohawk.

Serious, performance-enhancing drug violations are handled by the Ontario Racing Commission. Its rules provide for immediate suspension when a positive is called; no stays, multi-year and multi-thousand dollar penalties when convicted and conditions on the licensee, including out-of-competition testing, if a license is granted after the penalty is served. These rules apply at every track in Ontario and the penalties are recognised by every jurisdiction in North America and most jurisdictions in the world. This is not a WEG issue, it is an industry issue and the ORC is equipped to ensure that violators are dealt with quickly and severely. Racetrack operators need only support the regulator. This issue is not just about serious, performance-enhancing drug violations. The latest two people denied access to WEG’s paddock are Brian Tropea and John Walzak, who have certainly not been involved in any positive test or even with any rule violation. They simply represent horsepeople.

OHHA was under the belief that a basic agreement had already been reached on the HPI continuation issue. This has already happened in the Belleville area where no live racing has occurred for two years and OHHA urged WEG and the ORC to allow HPI to continue to be offered to existing customers. This happened early in 2008. Interestingly, this provision will only be effective if the same association represents horsepeople at WEG and the other racetracks.

The OHHA members’ decision to withhold entries at Woodbine remains in effect. They ask horsepeople to respect that decision and to be strong in supporting their common future.

For more information please contact John Walzak at 1-866-774-6442 (toll free) or 905-854-6442, ext. 226 or by email: [email protected].


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