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MacDonald, Vet Win Appeal

Published: July 8, 2015 10:35 am ET

Last Comment: July 9, 2015 9:12 pm ET | 7 Comment(s) | Jump to Comments

On Tuesday, the Appeal Board at the Ontario Racing Commission reversed an earlier decision that assessed a fine and suspension to horseman Anthony MacDonald and veterinarian Dr. Chris Grossenbacher.

MacDonald, Grossenbacher and trotter Stonebridge Rich were at the root of an issue that surfaced last November regarding withdrawal times and the therapeutic medication carbocaine (mepivacaine).

"I had a horse injure himself in the field and he was in to go. The vet came and looked at it. I wasn't at the barn...get to the barn and the vet says 'we stitched him up but the stitches are in a good place and he really should be fine to race'. So I raced him," MacDonald told Trot Insider in November. "Then I get a call from the judges that I got a positive test for carbocaine...which is what they put in to stitch the horse."

The horse raced and tested positive for mepivacaine, despite receiving less than the maximum dose of the local anesthetic from an ORC-licensed vet (Grossenbacher) outside of the recommended administration window outlined by the Canadian Pari-Mutuel Agency.

MacDonald and the horse received stays just before Christmas, allowing both participants to continue to race before the case was heard in April 2015. At the time, the ORC gave MacDonald a four-month suspension and $2,500 fine for the Class II positive test. Grossenbacher was fined $1,000. Both parties appealed the decision, with complete exoneration coming Tuesday from the ORC Appeal Board.

‎"My wife and I are very thankful and happy with today's outcome," MacDonald told Trot Insider. "Most people in our industry don't believe you can be treated fairly at the ORC level. They believe that you're assumed guilty no matter what. Well, today I was treated very fairly. The evidence was strong and I obviously believe the right verdict was handed down."

MacDonald hopes the industry can move forward from this predicament and take steps to ensure this type of scenario doesn't happen again.

"This wasn't just a win for me but a win for the entire industry," continued MacDonald. "I applaud the testing we have in Ontario and hope that we can now begin to update our withdrawal times so as to protect the participants in our industry."

MacDonald and his family offered gratitude to Bob Burgess, Dr. Chris Grossenbacher, Dr. Chris Robson, and Dr. Huw Llewellyn for their assistance in this case.

Trot Insider will update or post official Reasons for Decision from the Ontario Racing Commission when those documents are available.

July 9, 2015 - 9:12 pmMacdonald, Vet Win

Macdonald, Vet Win Appeal
This is a great example of what a trainer must do in order to achieve vindication from a positive test, is to document everything the time, date and treatment and have the same documentation recorded by the vet that did the work. However there is a different way to document this problem when it occurs. Notify the Judges and tell them that the horse needed medical attention and that due to the injury the horse may have drugs in its system, state the drugs involved then ask for a pre-race blood test to verify that, that was the only drug given to the horse before racing. Then its up to the Judges to allow the horse to race or to be scratched, “No appeal necessary “ positive test are an ugly thing that happens in the horse racing industry. They make all of us look bad untrustworthy and illegitimate, I’d like to think that most of the positive tests are just mistakes and probably are, but a lot of the trainers do not realize when they get a positive test there is no-opps there is only ka-boom, trainers really need to take this serious read the rule book, reference, trainers responsibilities and you will see that you the trainer is the only one on the hook, so cover your ass and document everything.
Len Campbell Jr.

July 9, 2015 - 6:27 amIt should never have come

Robert Coole SAID...

It should never have come this far when overwhelming records from the veterinarian and witnesses showed that everything was done well outside the prescribed cut-off times. The CPMA's testing has become more advanced while the cut-off times prescribed are still 10-15 years behind. You can ruin two careers that have taken years to build, on limits that are outdated. We should bring the cut-off times into the 21st century.

July 8, 2015 - 6:27 pmWhat a can of worms this

Ted Decker SAID...

What a can of worms this outcome has opened. Don't agree at all with it. The positive test list posted on Standardbred Canada is already out of control and the ORC allows this appeal. Good luck moving forward and getting any integrity back into this floundering game.

July 8, 2015 - 5:34 pmA tip of the hat to Mr. Leber

A tip of the hat to Mr. Leber I wish I had said it!!

July 8, 2015 - 4:52 pmWell said. Too bad it was

Will Boggs SAID...

Well said. Too bad it was waste of virtual trees and time. 2015, and still...

July 8, 2015 - 12:31 pmJustice is served...but why

terry gudz SAID...

Justice is served...but why does it take seven months to overturn the ruling and possibly tarnish the trainer and vet's integrity?

July 8, 2015 - 11:40 amCongratulations for winning

Georg Leber SAID...

Congratulations for winning the appeal. My comment would be, why didn't the ORC investigate this with you instead of against you and make the burden of proof yours. I look at the ORC as our governing body which means to me they have to be the leaders not just the judge and jury. The ORC has a vet(s) so where were they on this?

My comment is not meant to be argumentative-merely to point out that if we are to advance it can't be horsepeople against the ORC. It has to mesh or it becomes like our really broken legal system in this country.

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