Report: Drug Positives Nearly Doubled Since 2000

The number of race horses that failed drug tests in California has nearly doubled since 2000, and the offenses rarely result in disqualification or other stiff penalties, the Orange County Register reported in its Dec. 10 edition.

While the number of positive drug tests have dropped significantly in other states with horse racing, California registered 142 violations out of 31,517 tests in 2005, compared with 72 violations after 29,876 horses were examined in 2000, the newspaper reported.

California is on pace to finish this year with 150 violations, the newspaper reported. The CHRB will consider tougher sanctions in January.

"I'm as frustrated as everybody else," CHRB chairman Richard Shapiro said. "I do believe the punitive measures that are enacted need to be tougher."

While other states hand out suspensions or take away purses for drug violations, trainers working in California pay small fines and are often allowed to keep money from the races.

Only 14% of all California drug violations since 2000 resulted in disqualification, according to the newspaper, which reviewed tens of thousands of pages of documents from California and 21 other racing states.

The newspaper also found California horses tested positive for drugs more than four times as often as horses in New York.

Meanwhile, tens of thousands of urine and blood samples collected from horses that have raced in California over the past several years have never been tested, according to the report. California tested nearly 5,000 fewer horses in the last fiscal year compared with 2003, and the CHRB spent less on testing in 2005 than it did in each of the previous five years.