Illustrative photo. Be Flexi and his coach were banned from racing for three years. Photo by German Lledo/EyeEm via Getty Images
The horse and its trainer were banned from racing in New Zealand after they both tested positive for methamphetamine.
On January 5, methamphetamine was found in the system of Be Flexi, a horse that had just won a race in Otaki, off the Kapiti Coast, earning its owners $6,720 (about €6,320).
Be Flexi trainer and jockey Rochelle Lockett, 50, did not at first explain how the drugs found during the cleanup ended up in the animal, but admitted to investigators that they ingested some of them themselves in November 2021.
It wasn’t until she was forced to provide urine and hair samples, both of which tested positive for meth, that Lockett admitted to taking some on her January 3rd birthday. A hair follicle test also showed that Lockett did in fact use the substance regularly. Combing the area around the driver’s seat of the trailer used to transport the Be Flexi also tested positive for methamphetamine.
” [Les actions de Lockett] question the integrity of the sport, potentially having a devastating effect on player confidence. – Racing Integrity Council
The Racing Integrity Board met in early April to decide on the fine Lockett suffered. As a result, a three-year suspension was issued. If Lockett decides to go into rehab and proves she is drug-free by providing samples upon request within the next 18 months, she may still be allowed to race again after only serving half of her sentence.
“The environment cannot function without achieving a high level of animal welfare,” the council said. ” [Les actions de Lockett] question the integrity of the sport, potentially having a devastating effect on player confidence. »
The global racing industry has a rather complicated relationship with methamphetamine. Over the past 20 years, New Zealand alone has recorded at least 14 cases of coaches, instructors and jockeys testing positive.
This rise in cases may be one side effect of the competitive pressures that jockeys in particular face. To maintain a healthy weight, many skip meals and use an appetite suppressant.
For example, the first case of a horse testing positive for methamphetamine dates back to 2014. Over a three-month period in 2016, five winning horses were disqualified from one racetrack in Texas, USA, for the same reason. Experts and other horse watchers speculate that some animals may have tested positive for methamphetamine after being accidentally exposed to the drug through human contact or after prolonged exposure to a vehicle containing traces of it.
This was announced by a researcher at the Royal New Zealand Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) Alison Vaughn. New Zealand media and entertainment that although there is little scientific research on the effects of methamphetamine on horses, the negative effects of the drug on humans were reason enough not to give it to animals and not to handle it around them.
“SPCA’s position on this issue is very clear. Race organizers are responsible for ensuring the safety of the animals participating in them,” Vaughan said. “However, we are seeing more and more such cases, and even if it seems that it was not always deliberately injected into horses, it remains completely unacceptable. »
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