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Sunday, April 10, 2016

Convictions are Warnings

In Ontario, former standardbred trainer Derek Riesberry was convicted of one charge of fraud over $5,000 and one charge of attempted fraud over $5,000 and was fined $3,750, the first time a Canadian trainer was convicted in criminal court of doping.  While Rieseberry didn't receive any time in jail, this was a satisfactory penalty.  This time.

Being the first time a person was criminally charged for doping a horse in Canada, a fine alone is sufficient penalty. Hopefully, seeing a colleague receiving a fine and criminal record which may haunt them for life is incentive enough to discourage individuals from doping.  That said, in the event Rieseberry's misfortune is not deterrent enough, the next person who is charged should receive jail time.  Perhaps increasing the penalty and sending a message to the racing community will resonate with those willing to risk a fine and a blot on their record.

One may wonder why on both sides of the border, there aren't more criminal prosecutions.  Fact is most violations must be treated by racing commissions under the trainers responsibility rule for the standard for a criminal conviction is much higher than for an administrative charge.  The presence of a prohibited substance in a horse's blood is not sufficient for a criminal conviction; one needs to be caught in the act.

While it requires a receptive prosecutor, racing commissions would be doing the sport and horseplayers a great favor in those rare instances when someone is caught in the act doping a horse, they refer the case to the state or federal prosecutor; unless the risk associated with wrongdoing is high enough, those inclined to commit wrong will feel they can act in virtual impunity.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You're correct that getting a criminal conviction for doping a horse is difficult, but there are other criminal statutes that could be used to fight illegal activity. Racing regulators don't bother to call police even when tracks with casinos have police stationed there.

Example: Racing commission employees search vehicles entering barns and paddock areas. If they find illegal drugs or drugs that are illegal to possess without a prescription, they treat the cases as racing rules violations. Police should be called and those in the vehicle should be arrested or given citations according to the usual procedures under criminal law.

Example: If a racing license has been suspended or revoked and the person appears in a racing area while banned, police should be called to issue at least a citation for trespass. When the person is just asked to leave, there's no court record.