USEF announced that it has resolved the litigation with Kelley Farmer and Larry Glefke for their alleged July 2016 GABA violation.
USEF is voiding the proceeding from the outset and vacating all penalties and suspensions, thereby restoring Farmer and Glefke to active membership effective July 1, 2017. They are free to enjoy all privileges of membership including participation in competition.
In January, Farmer and Glefke were suspended and fined after Farmer’s 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. Larry Glefke received a 24-month suspension and a $24,000 fine; Farmer received a 12-month suspension and $12,000 fine.
Farmer and Glefke filed a complaint with the U.S. Olympic Committee, which was later dismissed. Then, on Jan. 4, the USEF lifted the suspensions pending further arbitration.
“The USEF must always treat its members fairly,” said USEF President Murray S. Kessler. “Late in the arbitration discovery process, the legal teams for USEF and Ms. Farmer and Mr. Glefke learned about errors in the laboratory’s handling of the blood sample in this case, that the USEF hearing committee was unaware of. Simply said, these errors were serious enough that we no longer can rely on the validity of the test and therefore, regret any negative impact that this had on Ms. Farmer and Mr. Glefke. All our members must be treated fairly.
“Accordingly, we are setting aside the suspensions as the USEF’s procedural integrity must be pristine in order to fairly protect our competitors. I have ordered a thorough compliance audit of the laboratory to ensure that what occurred in this case never happens again and that the proper procedures and checks are in place to be certain of that. I can assure our membership that any necessary corrective action will be taken.”
Read more about the laboratory mistake and the USEF response in “USEF Clarifies Dismissal Of Glefke And Farmer’s Suspensions.”
Farmer and Glefke released a statement through their lawyer, Bonnie Navin:
Ms. Farmer and Mr. Glefke are grateful that the USEF has agreed today to take this action—reversing their previous suspensions completely—but have issued this statement to clarify what has happened over the last year.
For the last year, Ms. Farmer and Mr. Glefke have been convinced that the USEF GABA samples in this case were flawed and scientifically unreliable, at least as to their horse’s test in this matter. This was based on their never having administered GABA nor allowed it to be used with their horse and the aberrant test results. Through counsel they have sought detailed information about GABA and the laboratory tests on their horse.
Although complete records were not immediately available before the USEF Hearing in June 2017, what evidence could be collected demonstrated a huge disparity in the GABA level detected in their horse’s samples, which called into question their test results. The USEF Hearing Panel rejected the then-available evidence in June 2017, but Farmer-Glefke continued to press USEF and its lab in the following months for additional information about what lead to the aberrant lab testing results.
In December and early January 2018, the additional evidence was presented to a neutral impartial arbitrator from the American Arbitration Association reviewing this case. On Jan. 3, 2018, that arbitrator—Mr. Lawrence Saichek—reversed his previous ruling in favor of USEF and ruled that evidence had convinced him that Farmer-Glefke would likely prevail in their challenge to the suspensions.
Accordingly, he lifted the suspensions immediately until the final hearing could be held in February.
Today, USEF has accepted Farmer-Glefke’s compiled evidence of errors that occurred in its laboratory and agreed to completely and immediately rescind the suspensions of Ms. Farmer and Mr. Glefke and drop the case against them in its entirety, effective as of the original date of suspension, July 1, 2017.
Even more importantly for USEF and its many members, USEF also announced that it was going to conduct “a thorough compliance audit of the laboratory” and pledged that it will take “any necessary corrective action” to ensure that what happened to Ms. Farmer and Mr. Glefke never happens again. Ms. Farmer and Mr. Glefke greatly appreciate USEF’s planned corrective actions that should lead to a better laboratory process, which ensures fair regulation and makes the treatment they received for the last year impossible for other USEF members to have to endure.
Kelley Farmer and Larry Glefke thank their legal team who worked tirelessly over the last year to build their case that showed errors in the USEF’s lab procedures related to their samples, which the Arbitrator provisionally accepted on Jan. 3, and which USEF accepted today.
Kelley Farmer and Larry Glefke very much look forward to resuming their full and active roles as USEF members beginning immediately.
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.