Herodotus has tested positive identification for O-Desmethyltramadol, identified as a human painkiller. Photo: Supplied
Herodotus has tested positive identification for O-Desmethyltramadol, identified as a human painkiller. Photo: Supplied

Horse tests positive for human painkiller – trainer explains

By Staff Reporter Time of article published Nov 24, 2020

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DURBAN - You will have received our penalty of R35 000 from the NHA in regards to Herodotus’ positive identification for O-Desmethyltramadol, reports Glen Kotzen.

I would like to inform the public that this is the first time in South African racing history this product has been picked up in a racehorse and on receiving the identification I’m beyond shocked as this is not a veterinary product used in horses but a human pain killer.

I have taken it upon myself to investigate the contamination from water source, environmental factors and human contamination and employed some of the best forensic experts both here and abroad. With thorough investigation together with SAP, I together with my wife, Kathi, found three staff members with IOD injuries in and around Herodotus’ win that were taking the medication which we have since learnt is routinely given to IOD patients who have undergone surgeries.

Since this incident every employee in our employment has to sign a basic conditions of employment contract which includes declaring and advising us of any schedule medication they are taking and we have also put up signage in our yard forbidding urination in and around our stable yard together with general hand sanitization.

Worldwide we have learnt that most O-Desmethyltramadol cases were human or environmental contamination. Similarly Richard Hannon in the UK received many positives over many years for the same product and he was pulling his hair out not being able to find the source.

Whilst we respect the part the NHA takes in protecting our industry and know the value of their service it is very sad that the strict liability clause ultimately makes me a guilty party and has caused our family tremendous emotional turmoil let alone the enormous financial losses we have incurred.

Whilst I will not be appealing this ruling as it is based purely on wrongful interpretation of the strict liability rule in this country which automatically renders one liable as the trainer of the horse that tested positive.

Abroad if a trainer can prove that they took all reasonable precautions to prevent a positive finding then the authorities won’t make a finding against the trainer concerned. I will, however, request the review board to look at the finding with regards to my case.

We would like to thank the owners of Herodotus who have from the very beginning stood by us whilst we investigated the cause of the contamination.


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