MA Racing Commission Decision Thrown Out

Superior court overturns racing commission decision to suspend trainer Sherryl Meade.

The Massachusetts superior court overturned a decision by the state's racing commission to suspend trainer Sherryl Meade’s license based upon a post race urine containing cocaine. According to a release, the urine sample tested positive for the parent compound of cocaine only, without the presence of metabolites. 

At a hearing before the commission, Meade argued the cocaine could not have been metabolized and passed through the horse, as no metabolites were found. In support, Meade offered the expert testimony of Dr. Louis Shuster and veterinarian Dr. Richard Sheehan Jr., who both agreed the presence of cocaine was more likely due to contamination.

Commission veterinarian Alexandra Lightbown, who was offered as an expert witness, agreed if the cocaine was metabolized, it would show up with metabolites. Lightbown testified, however, that there was a “theoretical possibility” that the cocaine could bypass the liver, and, therefore, not be metabolized, if it was administered under the tongue or through the nose.

The commission ultimately rejected the testimony Meade’s experts and adopted the opinion of Lightbown. But the Superior Court overturned the commission stating it failed to “explain why it rejected the generally accepted scientific principal related to metabolites (demonstrating) that cocaine did not enter the horse’s body.” 

The Court went on to say, “the Commission’s...decision rejecting (Meade’s) evidence without any credible contrary opinion is not based on substantial evidence and cannot stand.”