The U.S. Equestrian Federation announced on Feb. 23 that the USEF Hearing Committee has granted a request for a rehearing in the gamma-aminobutyric acid case against Kelley Farmer and Larry Glefke.
Glefke received a 24-month suspension and $24,000 fine, and Farmer a 12-month suspension and $12,000 fine, after Farmer’s horse, Unexpected, tested positive for GABA at the Kentucky Summer Horse Show in a pre-green hunter 3’3″ class on July 28, 2016. Glefke was identified on Unexpected’s entry blank as the trainer. Farmer was identified as Unexpected’s owner and rider. GABA is an inhibitory neurotransmitter, which can act as a tranquilizer.
The pair’s original USEF hearing was held Nov. 29, 2016, and neither Glefke nor Farmer attended that hearing. The two petitioned USEF for a rehearing, stating they had not been properly notified of the violation and subsequent hearing.
“Despite the fact that a fair hearing was conducted with proper notification to the respective parties, as noted by the Hearing Committee in its ruling, given that this was the first case in which the new board of directors approved penalty guidelines were utilized, the extremely serious nature of the violations, and the substantial penalties imposed, the Federation did not object to a rehearing and, therefore, supports the Hearing Committee’s decision,” said USEF President Murray Kessler in a press release from the organization.
“This case is too important in the USEF’s steadfast goal to enforce the drugs and medications rules intended to prevent cheating in our sport,” Kessler continued. “There can be no remote shadow of doubt that all of our cases are handled in a transparent manner.”
The USEF did not announce the new hearing date but did state it will take place in time for new findings to be issued before July 1. Farmer and Glefke’s suspensions are currently due to begin July 1, and any new or different suspensions will also commence on that date.
Glefke is currently serving a five-month suspension for a separate infraction, and that suspension started Feb. 1.
“The Hearing Committee ruled that any arguments about the scientific basis or analytical methodology underlying the Federation’s testing for GABA positives has already been conclusively determined in prior hearings and will not be a subject of the rehearing,” stated the USEF release.
“While we believe the USEF did the correct thing in allowing a rehearing their basis for getting to that point is misplaced,” said Bonnie Navin, attorney for Farmer and Glefke, in a written statement. “The Hearing Panel agreed to a rehearing but wrongfully concluded that the methodology and science of the GABA protocols of the USEF were previously established in prior hearings and could not be presented in this rehearing.
“This couldn’t be further from the truth and is based on improper interpretation of the Cox decision from the New York courts,” Navin continued, referencing a previous GABA case against trainer Archie Cox. “By ruling in the manner they have, the USEF has effectively not given a rehearing on the merits.”
Navin added that Glefke and Farmer will seek a pre-hearing on the issue.
“If USEF stands by its position and discounts the proper interpretation of New York law, then an immediate review will be taken either to the courts or the USOC for their determination. Glefke/Farmer are simply seeking a hearing on the merits and to present appropriate testimony on all issues including methodology and the science,” Navin stated.