We have been so embroiled in the US racehorse doping saga, we missed reporting this.
THE SYDNEY MORNING HERALD (March 10, 2020) — Two drug dealers have been accused of supplying EPO* for the administration to horses competing in Australia as part of the doping saga engulfing American racing.
Sarah Izhaki and Ashley Lebowitz were charged on Monday with “engaging in a scheme to distribute misbranded and adulterated performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs) for administration to horses competing in Australia, the Middle East, New Jersey and the Southern District of New York.”
The Grand Jury charges go onto accuse the mother-daughter couple of being suppliers of various PEDs, in particular EPO, which they allegedly obtained from a Mexican-based drug manufacturing company operating without a licence to import drugs into the United States.
In addition to the PEDs, they are also accused of offering a “masking” substance for sale, designed to conceal the presence of illegal drugs from detection during testing. The masking agent, which was referred to as “The Devil” was “something very new”, according to Izhaki.
“You put it in the horse, you can use coke: it will come back negative,” she allegedly said.
American trainers accused of doping their horses with a peptide called SGF-1000 are also accused of falsifying veterinary records to indicate that Dexamethasone had been administered. Dexamethasone, an anti-inflammatory, allegedly shows up on tests as a false positive for SGF-100.
No other reference to Australian racing is made in the 79 pages of indictments published on the United States Department of Justice website, but the allegation will send a shockwave through the industry.
EPO is tested for in Australian racing but is suspected to have gone undetected on race day in the case of Jarrod McLean and his jumps horse Cats Fun.
McLean, who is currently appealing a ruling which allowed Racing Victoria to use police evidence to charge him, is alleged to have administered the endurance-boosting drug to Cats Fun some time between August 2009 and 2014 after six used syringes were seized from his Yangery property in a police search early last year.
Traces of EPO were found in two syringes that were tested and Cats Fun’s blood was found on the needle of one. The other four syringes weren’t tested. Cats Fun never tested positive to EPO in a race day test.
Kembla Grange trainer Michael Tubman was also charged in June last year by Racing NSW with EPO possession after the substance was seized from a fridge in his Wollongong stable.
There is yet to be any evidence presented in court as to where the EPO found at McLean’s house originated from.
McLean told authorities the EPO was for “personal use” before DNA testing linked the syringes to one of his former horses.
The six syringes, found in McLean’s bedroom drawer, tied in a yellow rubber band, were labelled ‘Eprex 10,000’.
Five vials Lebowitz allegedly supplied a confidential FBI source posing as a New Jersey horse trainer are labelled ‘Exetin-A’.
Izhaki allegedly sold a further 10 vials of the same drug to the same source and later distributed 24 vials to an undercover source.
More than two dozen people, including Jason Servis, trainer of champion horse Maximum Security, have been charged in what authorities describe as a widespread international scheme to drug horses.
*An EPO is a drug that can improve performance in sports and is used illegally by some athletes. EPO is short for ‘erythropoietin.’