Vet Given Five-Year Suspension in Cobra Venom Investigation

Kentucky racing stewards have suspended veterinarian Dr. Rodney Stewart for five years for numerous violations of the Kentucky Horse Racing Authority's medication regulations.

The suspension was ordered following an investigation into items seized during a June 22 search of three of Thoroughbred trainer Patrick Biancone's barns at Keeneland. Stewart's vehicle was searched the same day.

Stewart was suspended for four years for possession of three sealed vials of alpha-cobratoxin, or cobra venom, a substance used to kill pain. The substance is a Class A medication under the KHRA Uniform Drug and Medication Classification Schedule. Stewart was additionally suspended for one year for the possession of carbidopa and levodopa, both also Class A medications. Both drugs are used to treat Parkinson's disease in humans. The suspensions will run consecutively.

The stewards also ordered Stewart to serve a 60-day suspension for a variety of violations relating to the possession of medications without proper labeling. This suspension may be served concurrently with the five years Stewart is suspended for the alpha-cobratoxin and carbidopa and levodopa violations.

Stewart was also suspended for 60 days for breaking two regulations that require the reporting of violations of medication rules to stewards or the KHRA veterinarian. The stewards found that Stewart was aware Biancone was in possession of alpha-cobratoxin, injectables, and improperly labeled medications, all violations of Kentucky regulations, and failed to report the violations.

The penalty for each non-reporting violation is a 30-day suspension or a $1,000 fine that could be accepted in lieu of a suspension. The suspensions for non-reporting can be served concurrently with the five years Stewart is suspended for the alpha-cobratoxin, carbidopa, and levodopa violations.

"We hope this action by the stewards sends a clear a message that violations of Kentucky's racing rules will result in harsh penalties," said Lisa Underwood, executive director of the KHRA.

Stewart is currently under suspension by the stewards for failing to cooperate in a KHRA investigation.

The investigation by the KHRA regarding the search of Biancone's barns and Stewart's vehicle is ongoing.

(Originally published at  

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