Culture, Part 19

There's a fascinating story on the Racing Biz, about a positive test for a horse in a grade I race, that no one seemed to know ever happened (don't worry, you didn't miss it. It was not reported).
  • Princess of Sylmar, the beaten 1-5 post time favorite in the July 12, 2014 running of the Grade 1 Delaware Handicap, came back with a post-race overage of the corticosteroid betamethasone, which under Delaware and Association of Racing Commissioners International model rules is permitted to a threshold of 10 picograms per milliliter of plasma.
  • But after a year of legal wrangling, the state will drop the inquiry and release the purse funds, Delaware Thoroughbred Racing Commission (DTRC) executive director John Wayne said July 23, “based on the advice of the deputy attorney general."
No one disputes the positive happened - a split sample confirmed it - but legal wrangling allowed it to be expunged. The owner gets the $150,000 for coming second, the horse owners and connections who finished 3rd through sixth are out of luck.

I am not going to argue about the merits of the case, either way. I understand the US is litigious and these things happen. But, it could not help but remind me of something I wrote last month, regarding PGA Tour Pro Scott Stallings.
  • Just this week this culture was exemplified with PGA Tour pro, Scott Stallings. Stallings was prescribed something by a doctor that he was told was not banned. He was tested by the Tour while taking it, and he did not trigger a positive. All’s well right? No harm no foul? No, that’s not the way it works with the golf culture. Stallings found out months later the drug he was taking was banned, so he contacted the PGA Tour and called the positiveon himself. He was suspended for 90 days. Some might say he should’ve kept quiet, appealed, claimed how unfair this all is; how he’s a victim who did nothing wrong. But, that’s not in the sports’ culture.
Sure the PGA drug rules are unclear, sure a doctor told him that it was legal, sure there was no intent, sure it was an honest mistake, sure they didn't even catch him with a test when he was tested. But he's suspended.

We've seen this same thing with millions upon millions on the line in golf. The "unclear" rules at the PGA Championship in 2010 about waste areas certainly cost Dustin Johnson millions. But there was no griping. It is what it is.

I'm not a good person to ask about "overages". I think a lot of the overage penalites are at times very penal, and somewhat silly. I am not one to ask about fairness because state by state there are not uniform rules on this sort of thing. However, it does strike me as odd that in one sport the culture is set that the rules matter. In another, they're something to hire a lawyer for.

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