In a meeting held at the Mahalaxmi racecourse on Thursday the Royal Western India Turf Club (RWITC) stewards handed out suspension of 90 days each to trainers Pesi Shroff and MK Jadhav for vicarious liability in view of some of their horses testing positive for banned drug venlaflaxine. Both trainers had made out a case for mitigating circumstances by submitting scientific proof that two supplements, soda bicarbonate & Epsom salt, reportedly manufactured by reputed Indian companies, were responsible for the positive findings as they were found to have been contaminated with venlaflaxine.
Experts support contamination theory Shujaat Hussain, senior stipendiary steward, who investigated the charges against the two trainers, had also submitted a note to the body of stewards who were to conduct a fresh hearing in the matter as per the directive of the board of appeal of RWITC. He had opined that the claim of contamination made by the trainers was not endorsed by the experts. However, when mid-day spoke to the two experts, one a senior professor of a premier scientific institute from Bangalore and the other a senior veterinarian of over four decades’ experience, both stated that the positive findings appeared to be a case of contamination.
Trainer M K Jadhav, when contacted by mid-day after the verdict, said, "They gave me a fair trial, but they said their rules don’t allow them to test the material and if they don’t take cognizance of our tests, how are we going to prove our innocence?"
Trainer Pesi Shroff refused to comment about the hearing, but said he had placed his apprehensions on record. However, he refused to elaborate, only adding, "I will wait for the written order before taking my next step."
Vijay Shirke, himself a steward and also a horse owner who trains with both Shroff and Jadhav, termed the stewards' order 'ridiculous'. "Nowhere in the world is a trainer punished if the possibility of contamination is accepted, and endorsed by independent experts," he told mid-day.