Controlling the Message

It was recently announced that there were several morphine positives in the UK. One of the horses who tested positive was the Queen's horse. Yes, that Queen.

This has made headlines, and most of them scream like the one in the above link does. Short version: Racing is crooked, even the Queen does it.

Morphine positives, and other obvious egregious drugs that find their way into positive tests, are often due to some sort of contamination. An easy way to tell if the positive test is a mistake of some sort, is by releasing the levels of the drug in the system. 1 parts per billion, which will test, could not performance enhance an ant, let alone a twelve hundred pound racehorse. If we see those levels we know darn well it's an error.

I understand why racing has to release tests like this to the public, but they need to have some sort of narrative to go along with them. It's one thing for the trainer in question say "there was only a small amount in the system and it probably came from the feed", and quite another for the authorities to say similar; the latter meaning a lot more than the former.

It's not apoligizing for horse racing, it's about doing the right thing. A trainer - especially with the Queen's horse - would have to be insane to use morphine because he or she knows it will test. It's a non-starter and should be treated as such.

There are bad trainers out there. There's pre-race in the shadows that "won't test"; there are bloodbuilders and other nefarious drugs. We know this to be true because some have been caught, signed, sealed and delivered, and some will be caught again. Whenever there's money involved you'll find corruption. But in the above, no corruption was likely, and racing needs to do a better job in such situations. The public just sees "crook" and that's helpful to no one.

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