Vet Suspended from Tracks for Noncompliance in Venom Investigation

Dr. Rod Stewart, a veterinarian for racehorse trainer Patrick Biancone, was suspended by the Kentucky Horse Racing Authority for failing to comply with an order to turn over his computer and records to state stewards.

Stewards requested the computer and records in connection with the ongoing investigation relating to cobra venom, a substance used to kill pain. It allegedly was found during a July search of Biancone's Keeneland barn. Stewart's vehicle was also searched at the same time.

In an Aug. 3 written order, chief state steward John Veitch requested that Stewart provide all written documentation since Jan. 1, 2007 concerning the purchase, possession or use of any medications or drugs. In a July 25 written order, Veitch had requested that Stewart provide any computers used to store or record information, as well as computer components.

Stewart was ordered to comply with both orders by Aug. 9. A suspension order was signed and issued by Veitch Aug. 16.

"The suspension means he is not allowed on any racetrack backside in Kentucky," KHRA executive director Lisa Underwood said Aug. 22. "New York, as well as other states, have been notified of the suspension, and most all racing states reciprocate suspensions."

The KHRA continues to investigate the matter. A hearing date for Biancone has not been set.

Under the Association of Racing Commissioners International drug classifications, snake venom is listed as a Class II substance--one with the ability to impact performance and affect the outcome of a race. Snake venom is a nerve-blocking agent.

Snake venom falls under RCI guidelines that state "possession and/or use of a drug, substance, or medication on the premises of a facility under the jurisdiction of the regulatory body that has not been approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration for use in the United States" is considered a prohibited practice, as is blood-doping. Snake venom is not FDA-approved.

(Originally published at  

About the Author

Leslie Deckard

Leslie Deckard is a former staff writer for The Blood-Horse magazine.

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