Legendary coach Bob Baffert insisted he was innocent of wrongdoing on Monday following the failed drug test against Kentucky Derby winner Medina Spirit, who left the American race in turmoil.
Medina Spirit could be the second Kentucky Derby winner in history to be stripped of the title for doping offenses after traces of the steroid betamethasone were found in the horse’s system.
It is the latest in a string of doping cases that have rocked Baffert’s team in recent years and is leaving the Hall of Fame coach at the risk of a lengthy ban from the sport if upheld.
Baffert told Fox News in an interview on Monday that he had never cheated, and said his immediate suspension by Churchill Downs racetrack on Sunday left him the victim of a “culture of cancellation.”
Baffert told Fox that Medina Spirit had never received betamethasone – which is legal in American races provided it is not administered within 14 days of competition – and suggested the horse could have been accidentally or willfully contaminated with the substance.
“It didn’t happen,” Baffert told the network. “This horse has never been treated with (betamethasone). In fact, it is a legal therapeutic drug and the amount it contains would have no effect on the horse anyway.
“But this horse has never been dealt with with that and so that’s the disturbing part. I never thought I should fight for my reputation and the reputation of the poor horse.
“We live in a new world now. These horses don’t live in a bubble, ”he said. “They are on an open farm. People touch them. He went from Derby to after Derby, everyone touches them. “
Kentucky racing authorities last year changed the threshold for a positive betamethasone test from 10 picograms per milliliter of plasma to 21 picograms per milliliter. A picogram is equal to a trillionth of a gram.
“There are so many ways that these horses can get contaminated and when they are tested at these really ridiculously low levels – I’ve been saying this for over a year now, it’s going to get innocent people in trouble and that’s what has happened now ”. Baffert said.
“Bob Baffert is not stupid,” added the trainer. “It’s not a drug I would use on a horse. We do not use this drug. The horse never had that in him. We have the documentation. We will show it all. “
Baffert meanwhile said he plans to take part in Medina Spirit in this weekend’s Preakness Stakes at Pimlico in Baltimore, the second stop on the prestigious Triple Crown of the American race.
It was not clear however if Medina Spirit would be licensed to race by the Maryland Jockey Club. The race draw was delayed for 24 hours until Tuesday after Sunday’s doping bomb.
Baffert, meanwhile, criticized Churchill Downs Racecourse for suspending it following the revelation of the drug test.
“Churchill Downs made that statement and it was pretty tough,” he said. “We live in a different world. This America is different. It was sort of a culture of cancellation. “
© 2021 AFP