FBI agents arrested 27 people early Monday on federal charges they participated in a scheme to illegally administer performance enhancing drugs (PEDs) to racehorses throughout the United States, court papers filed in U.S. District Court in Manhattan say.
The 27 defendants include horse trainers, veterinarians, and others, accused of administering the PEDs in order to improve the performance of racehorses at racetracks in New York, New Jersey, Florida, Ohio, Kentucky, and the United Arab Emirates, court papers say.
The defendants allegedly used PEDs that are designed to evade drug tests as well as covertly administering the PEDs and physically concealing containers of PEDs from authorities, prosecutors say.
The investigation was conducted by the FBI, NYPD, US Customs and Border Protection, New York State Police, and the FDA Office of Criminal Investigations. Arrests were made in the New York City area and in other parts of the U.S.
Prosecutors say the investigation uncovered widespread schemes by racehorse trainers, veterinarians, PED distributors and others to manufacture, distribute, and administer adulterated and misbranded PEDs to racehorses competing at all levels of professional horseracing.
Prosecutors say trainers who participated in these schemes profited by earning a share of the horses’ winnings and by improving their horses’ racing records they received higher trainer fees.
Jorge Navarro, a trainer, is accused of training and doping XY Jet, a thoroughbred horse that won the 2019 Golden Shaheen race in Dubai, court papers say. Another trainer, Jason Servis, is said by prosecutors to have doped virtually all horses under his control, including Maximum Security, which finished first in the 2019 Kentucky Derby but was subsequently disqualified for interference.
“Today’s unsealing of four indictments for widespread doping of racehorses is the largest ever of its kind from the Department of Justice,” said U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman. “These defendants engaged in this conduct not for the love of the sport, and certainly not out of concern for the horses, but for money.”
“These men allegedly saw the $100 billion dollar global horse racing industry as their way to get rich at the expense of the animals that were doing all the hard work,” said FBI Assistant Director William Sweeney. “Our investigation reveals the cruelty and inhumane treatment these horses suffered all to win a race.”
The defendants were due to appear in federal court in Manhattan Monday afternoon.