I'm a Chicago guy so that explains the Tribune referencing. For my last post, I'd like to suggest that everybody reads this article about testing race horses for cocaine.
The nut of the question: "How much cocaine should be allowed in a racehorse...and whether to disqualify horses for trace amounts of the drug?" According to this report, some people are arguing that low traces of the drug don't indicate cheating, instead, it suggests that the horse's handlers are cocaine users - say, a cocaine user feeds the horse and transports traces of the drug from his/her hand to the horse's mouth. Interesting, right? Of course, there are the skeptics who believe people are giving cocaine to their horses for a competitive edge.
Scot Waterman, executive director of the National Throughbred Racing Association's task force on drug testing, said there really isn't a more polarizing topic (I'm assuming he means in the horseracing community).
I am perplexed. First, if any human being tests positive for cocaine, then penalties ensue: you don't get your job, you get suspended from your union, you go to jail, etc. I think if I was a cocaine user I might be a little jealous.
Of course, the horse is not at fault. So, the second point, giving horses cocaine is animal abuse. Somebody has to be held responsible, be it the owner or the trainer of the horse.
However, the appropriate response is not, as Mr. Waterman stated, "If racing is like society as a whole, horses are going to come into contact with it (cocaine)." Horses, unlike people, cannot actively seek and condone drug use. How many people wish they could use that execuse, "Gee, drugs are just everywhere these days, I was bound to test positive...no matter what I've done to avoid drugs."
In defense of the positive tests, phrases such as "unavoidable contamination" and "environmental contamination" are thrown around. New York State, however, upon witnessing a series of positive tests in the 1990's, decided to penalize low-level positives. The result: "unavoidable contamination" became avoidable.
-- Steve Cieslewicz