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TTRA back-tracks on hearings

 CHAIRMAN of the Trinidad and Tobago Racing Authority (TTRA) Sunil Sirjoo has stated in a letter dated 23 September 2013, written by him to Minister of Trade, Investment and Industry Vasant Bharath that it will be unlawful for him to conduct hearings into positive sample results reported to the Trinidad and Tobago Racing Authority (TTRA) by the testing laboratory.

Sirjoo’s letter was in response to a directive sent to him by Minister Bharath, and dated 20 August, 2013, advising him that the TTRA is acting contrary to the Rules of Racing. 

Minister Bharath in his directive dated 20 August, 2013 advised the TTRA according to the Rules of Racing a positive is defined as a prohibited substance, the concentration of which is above the threshold level or matter established from time to time. Minister Bharath pointed out in that letter that the Rules of Racing expressly provide for threshold levels. 

Minister Bharath further added: “In my investigations in this matter, I have found that the testing for prohibited substances has advanced to a stage, that even very minute levels of a substance can be detected weeks, even months after it has been applied to a race horse. Therefore, setting threshold levels is a fundamental condition for fair testing, and the Authority has a duty to comply with the Rules of Racing.” 

However, the TTRA has still presided over inquiries of positive sample tests.

But Sirjoo in his letter said: “In the event that the direction is not withdrawn, the owner and/or trainer will be entitled to claim that the TTRA is acting unlawfully, and in a discriminatory manner, if enquiries are tabled to consider and deal with the findings of prohibited substances in those horses when no Inquiry has been held into the finding of the prohibited substance found in the sample of urine taken from the horse Boogie Blues.”

The letter continued: “Unless the direction is withdrawn, the Authority cannot lawfully carry out any enquiries into the findings of prohibited substances in the urine or and blood samples taken from any horse since the TTRA, as a public authority, is by law required to impartially regulate and control the racing industry in accordance with the Rules Of Racing and the TTRA Act.”

Minister Bharath in response to Sirjoo’s letter stated: “You have not                                      established any grounds for me to                                                            withdraw the directions given by me in my said letter dated 20 August, 2013.”

He continued : “The TTRA is currently permitted to conduct any enquiry into the findings of a prohibited substance once it does so with its obligations under the Rules.”

Just over two weeks ago, the TTRA sent out a list of a list of 25 therapeutic medication drugs drawn down from the International Federation of Horseracing Authorities Racing (IFHA), with the screening limit as proposed by IFHA. 

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