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The Stewards order on the suspension of trainer Pesi Shroff on the positive finding of "Boldenone", a banned drug in "Bullseye"

Posted on - 31 Mar 2014

As there have been several media reports and controversy generated on the positive finding of “Boldenone”, a banned drug in “BULLSEYE”, the Stewards order on the suspension of Trainer Pesi Shroff for vicarious responsibility, is re-produced as under:

The Stewards after having thoroughly enquired into the matter and having applied their minds to the entire facts and circumstances of the case and to all papers, proceedings reports and records and also having permitted Trainer P Shroff to make submissions in the subject matter, decided that he was in breach of the Medication Rules governing the finding of BOLDENONE (an anabolic steroid) in the urine sample of BULLSEYE and held him vicariously responsible for the following reasons:-

1)  BULLSEYE had left Trainer P Shroff’’s yard in mid-April, 2013 for summering at Nanoli Stud as per the Left Charge form submitted by him. Though BULLSEYE went for sampling directly from Nanoli Stud on 6th December, 2013 it is a fact that she was under his care till 15th August, 2013 and thereafter was not subjected to any test of her urine by the R.W.I.T.C. Ltd. As an anabolic steroid could remain in the system of a race horse for up to 180 days, it cannot be conclusively established as to when and where the BOLDENONE was administered.

2) It has been stated that anabolics are not typically given to fillies and hence the finding of BOLDENONE in BULLSEYE (a filly) was unlikely. However, it is gathered that BULLSEYE had a sesamoid/ lameness problem and veterinary experts have stated that anabolics are also given to help “stress and strain” in all race horses. Further, BULLSEYE moved between Nanoli Stud and his yard twice between April, 2013 and August, 2013.

3)  Though BULLSEYE went for sampling directly from Nanoli Stud in December, 2013, all the charges of “conspiracy and sabotage” remains a conjecture. It has been established in the enquiry that there is a close relationship between Trainer P Shroff and the proprietor of Nanoli Stud and Trainer Shroff’s horses often shuttle between Nanoli Stud and his yard. Also it was noted that Nanoli Stud had employed a farrier who was warned off by the RWITC Ltd. and he (the Farrier) was the prime suspect of sabotage, as alleged by Trainer P Shroff.

4)  It is gathered that he accompanied Mr. K.N. Dhunjibhoy to a meeting held in New Delhi with Mrs. Maneka Gandhi to appoint an independent committee to enquire with this infringement, even before the Stewards had begun their enquiry. At the same meeting Trainer P Shroff and Mr. Dhunjibhoy participated in a discussion suggesting possible names of the Enquiry Officers. Arising out of this meeting and an independent letter by Mr. Dhunjibhoy to the Chairman of the Animal Welfare Board of India, an attempt was made to delay the enquiry of the Stewards, which not only established the relationship between Trainer P Shroff and Mr. K.N. Dhunjibhoy but was also seen as a premature attempt to bear influence on the Stewards.

5)  Trainer P Shroff has stated that a private sample collected at the Stud Farm was sent by Nanoli Stud in November, 2013 which was clean and this strengthened Trainer P Shroff’s suspicion of sabotage, though the Rules of Racing do not take cognizance of the result of such private samples as there is no chain of custody under the control of the RWITC Ltd.

6) Trainer P Shroff has been unable to explain the relatively low level of BOLDENONE in the urine sample taken on 6th December, 2013 which would be unlikely if the horse was sabotaged. The subsequent private sample showed a much higher level, as alleged by him, was not taken by the RWITC, Ltd. and hence cannot be relied upon.

7) Some of the comments made by Trainer P Shroff in his complaint dated 23rdJanuary, 2014 as the possible reasons for the alleged sabotage are entirely conjecture and remain unsubstantiated.

8) From the experience of past positives for the same drug of horses coming from Nanoli Stud, and in Trainer P Shroff’s own interest, he ought to have had BULLSEYE tested by the Club’s Vet before she left Nanoli Stud and ensured her security before her sampling in Mumbai.

9)  The Stewards noted that as per the earlier decision of the Stewards which has been notified in the Club’s Racing Calendar, should the urine sample of any horse, whenever tested, be reported positive for the presence of any anabolic steroids the Stewards would deal with such cases at their absolute discretion in the most stringent manner. The Stewards also noted that even as per the Calendar Notification dated 24th September, 2008 concerning “Sampling of Racing Stock at the Stud Farms” states “in case of a positive, the same penalties will be applicable to the Trainer as are published in the Racing Calendar for the breach of norms for Random Sampling of horses in Training” and hence the responsibility for the horse which had specifically gone for summering remained with Trainer P Shroff. The Stewards further noted that at various meeting of the Turf Authorities of India starting from November, 11, 2013 and recommended unanimously by the Chairmen of the Turf Authorities of India and by the Veterinary Commission of India, and not objected to by the RWITC Ltd Stewards at any stage, a two year ban on a trainer is applicable on the finding of an anabolic steroid in the sample of any horse in training. Notwithstanding all these facts, taking an overall view and taking into view the submissions made by Trainer P Shroff, the Stewards took a lenient view and decided as under :-

1)  Instead of imposing stringent punishment as per the Calendar Notification dated 17th April, 2011, it was decided to suspend the Trainer’s license granted to Mr. P Shroff w.e.f. 29th March, 2014 till the end of Mumbai Meeting 2013/14. Thereafter, if he applied for a Trainer’s license for the Season 2014/15, it may be granted to him, however, his license shall stand suspended up to and inclusive of 31st December, 2014;

2) To immediately test all the horses under Trainer P Shroff’s charge for the presence of anabolic steroids and sex hormones;

3) After completion of Trainer P Shroff’s punishment when he would start training again, all his runners will be compulsorily sampled every alternate month for a period of two years;

4)  After completion of his punishment on 31st December, 2014, Trainer P Shroff will not be allowed to take charge of any race horse from any Stud Farm except 2-year-olds, other than the horses leaving and returning from another racing centre. This restriction will be applicable for the next three years after he would resume training of horses under the Rules of this Club.

During the period of suspension of Mr. P Shroff’s Trainer’s License, the following and any other disabilities under the Rules shall be applicable to him:-

i) No horse under his charge shall be permitted to race and/or work.  He will only be allowed to work his non-racing horses after the Official Track work timing on the Reverse Track. He cannot take charge of any horse during the period of his suspension without prior permission from the Stewards.

ii) Should the Owner/s of the horses decide to race his/her/their horses, he/she/they must remove the horses physically from his stable before the suspension of his Trainer’s license commences and hand over the same to another licensed Trainer. Thereafter, any transfer shall only be permitted with the prior consent of the Stewards;

iii) He is not permitted to come to the Race Course and/or attend any race meetings (on course & off course) at Mumbai & Pune Race Courses  or enter any of the Off Course Betting Centres or wherever the Rules of Racing of the R.W.I.T.C., Ltd. are in force and/or attend race horses in a race;

iv) He is not permitted to attend Track work at any time whenever horses are being trained;

v)  However, during the period of his suspension, he will be permitted to enter his stable only to attend to the horses under his charge;

vi) He may visit the TCH, Pune and the Hooves, Mumbai Race Course. However, on our Club race days and on inter-venue betting days, he may visit TCH, Pune and the Hooves, Mumbai, after the conclusion of the races;

vii)  No horse owned or part-owned by him will be permitted to race;

viii) Any other disabilities not mentioned above but may be applicable to Trainers suspended for breach of Medication Rules as per the Rules of Racing and Calendar Notifications issued by the Club.

The Stewards specifically drew Trainer P Shroff’s attention that the concessions permitted during his suspension period would have to be strictly adhered to and that should for any reason he be found involved in directly or indirectly maintaining or training horses or any transfer of money to his account (other than Feeding and Upkeep Cost of horses under his charge) during the period of his suspension, very strict action will be taken against him for such offence.

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