The U.S. Equestrian Federation has given hunter professional Kelley Farmer a two-month suspension and $5,000 fine following a positive drug test on a horse in her care at the time, Kodachrome.
Kodachrome, a top derby contender owned by Nina Moore and the reserve champion at the 2016 USHJA International Hunter Derby Championship (Kentucky) with Farmer in the irons, tested positive for benzoylecgonine and ecgonine methyl ester, the metabolites of cocaine, at the Ocala Winter Classic (Florida) held Feb. 7-12, 2017.
The USEF official notice of action stated that Farmer presented an affidavit alleging that the positive test was the result of contamination from a former employee who used the drug and has since been terminated.
“No one in their right mind is giving horses cocaine; that’s as stupid as it gets,” said Larry Glefke, Farmer’s business partner. “But it’s hard when you have people working for you who may do it. I mean it’s obviously contamination from whoever did that kind of stuff.”
“It is obvious that the USEF personnel involved in this case are biased and prejudiced against my client and have chosen to treat her unfairly and much differently than other professionals facing the same charge,” said Farmer’s lawyer John Pappas in an email. “For quite some time USEF finally recognized that competitors do not give their horses cocaine, as its effects are highly unpredictable, and possession of this drug is a crime. Rather USEF has learned that environmental contamination is the source of any positive finding of cocaine in a horse. Several trainers with positive cocaine findings in their horses have been given only censures and fines. There have been no cocaine suspensions.”
Farmer did not attend the USEF hearing regarding the positive test, and the USEF notice of action noted that the Hearing Committee did not receive concrete proof to support Farmer’s affidavit.
“In setting the proper penalty, the Hearing Committee considered the significant prior violations against Ms. Farmer for violations of the Drugs and Medications rules. The Hearing Committee believed that Ms. Farmer had been sufficiently penalized for her history of drug violations in a prior ruling, and determined that the appropriate penalties should be set in this case without revisiting the prior penalties levied against her,” the notice stated.
“On the side of a higher penalty was the fact that cocaine can unfairly affect the performance of a competing horse, and that Ms. Farmer did not attend the hearing or present any witnesses to rebut the charge or explain the positive result. On the side of a lower penalty was the pervasive nature of cocaine in our society, and the higher chance that a cocaine positive could result from some form of environmental contamination. On balance, the Hearing Committee determined unanimously that the [assigned] penalties were appropriate for this violation,” the notice read.
Farmer and Glefke have spent much of 2017 contesting a separate USEF Hearing Committee ruling regarding a positive GABA test on a horse in their care. For that infraction Farmer received an 18-month suspension and $18,000 fine, and Glefke got a 24-month suspension and $24,000 fine.
Pappas explained that Farmer did not attend the hearing, held on Oct. 26, because of the previous suspension, which banned her from participating in all USEF affairs and activities including “attending, observing or participating in any event, forum, meeting, program, clinic, task force or committee of the Federation, sponsored by or conducted by the Federation, or held in connection with the Federation and any of its activities.”
“I never received a written waiver of the clear and precise terms of the suspension that the attorney for the hearing panel had drafted,” he said. “I appeared at the 10-26-2017 hearing and advised the hearing panel and its attorneys that without a written waiver Kelley would not appear and attend this hearing in violation of USEF’s 6-30-2017 order and risk a further suspension from USEF, which had demonstrated its proclivity to be harsh, unfair and unjust toward Kelley.”
Farmer’s suspension for the positive cocaine test is set to start Feb. 1, 2019, and end March 31, 2019, while her suspension for the positive GABA test ends Dec. 31, 2018.
Read all the coverage of Kelley Farmer and Larry Glefke’s suspensions in 2017, including each update, statements from them, responses from others and more.