Four federal indictments accuse more than 2 dozen people — including veterinarians and racehorse trainers — in a far-reaching conspiracy to use performance-enhancing drugs on racehorses competing in the United States and abroad.
Defendants are charged with manufacturing, distributing and administering “adulterated or misbranded drugs.”
“What actually happened to the horses amounted to nothing less than abuse,” says William F. Sweeney Jr., assistant director in charge of the FBI’s New York office. “They experienced cardiac issues, overexertion leading to leg fractures, increased risk of injury, and, in some cases, death. Conversely, the human being involved in the scheme continued to line their purses as they manipulated this multibillion-dollar horse racing industry across the globe.”
Among them is trainer Jason Servis, whose stable includes Maximum Security, the 3-year-old horse that crossed the finish line first at the 2019 Kentucky Derby, only to be disqualified for interference. The horse won the world’s richest race — the $10 million Saudi Cup.
Servis is charged with giving Maximum Security the performance-enhancing drug SGF-1000, recommending it to another trainer and conspiring with veterinarians, including Kristian Rhein and Alexander Chan, to produce a false positive for another substance. He allegedly gave substances to “virtually all the racehorses under his control.” Authorities say Servis entered horses in about 1,082 races from 2018 through February 2020.
“The charges in this indictment result from a widespread, corrupt scheme by racehorse trainers, veterinarians, PED (performance-enhancing drug) distributors and others to manufacture, distribute and receive adulterated and misbranded PEDs and to secretly administer those PEDs to racehorses under scheme participants’ control,” according to the indictment.
Dr. David Frisbie, president of the American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP) called the indictments “concerning and disappointing.”
“The AAEP’s Professional Conduct and Ethics Committee has been informed about the federal charges, and our internal review process will soon begin to ensure a fair and thorough evaluation of the events,” Frisbie says. “The AAEP’s authority, however, is limited only to membership status in the association. It is the ethical obligation of AAEP members and all veterinarians to adhere to the highest standards in order to protect the racehorse and the integrity of the sport.”