A husband and wife have been disqualified from horse racing after they and their winning colt tested positive for methamphetamine. Photo / Avocatul Nordului
A stable hand who is married to a horse trainer who tested positive for methamphetamine along with his winning stallion has also admitted using the Class A narcotic.
In May, Tazimoto won the $12,000 Lion Red Punters Challenge Maiden at Ruakaka Race Course, but shortly after the win, tests by race officials revealed the presence of methamphetamine in his system.
Trainer and co-owner Darren Smith was also tested and traces of the Class A drug were found in his urine and hair – indicating prolonged use.
Smith, however, denied ever touching methamphetamine and claimed he was the unfortunate victim of cross-contamination caused by a steady hand using the drug.
“He stated that he had never consumed methamphetamine in any form and that the positive analysis of both urine (and hair) samples could only have arisen from an association with his employee,” the Racing Integrity Council said in a decision earlier this year.
NZME can now reveal that Smith’s wife Jazmin, a licensed groom, co-owner of Tazimoto and co-owner of Bream Bay Bloodstock, also returned a positive drug test for methamphetamine on the same day as her husband. It is not clear if she is the same steady hand her husband referred to in his comments to the board.
Jazmin told the Racing Integrity Board’s Adjudication Committee that he was an occasional user of methamphetamine.
After testing positive, she sought treatment from Salvation Army counselors and a report from AOD’s senior counselor and clinician to the racing industry was presented to the committee.
“It was noted that Ms. Smith attended individual counseling and seemed genuinely engaged in the sessions and motivated to do the work needed to overcome her addiction.”
In August, Smith was banned from racing for two-and-a-half years, but on appeal was offered the chance to halve his ban if he can pass bi-monthly clean drug tests.
“We believe it is appropriate to give Mr. Smith the opportunity to reinforce his position that, despite the positive test, he is not a user of methamphetamine.”
At the same time, Jazmin was banned from the sport for 12 months but appealed the decision on the grounds that her punishment was excessive and should have started when she was first revoked in June.
The committee said it did not have the power to backdate a disqualification, but agreed that the length of her disqualification should be reduced because the penalty imposed was inappropriate because it was higher than the standard.
“Ms Smith expressed remorse and expressed the view that she was solely to blame for the positive swab returned by Tazimoto.
“We are not at all sure of the accuracy of this statement or her opinion, but there is no need for the Adjudication Committee to discuss this matter further.”
Reduced Jazmin’s disqualification to 10 months.
He was also granted a further concession, that if he completed the Salvation Army rehabilitation program for eight months and thereafter, to the satisfaction of the New Zealand Racing and Thoroughbred Racing Integrity Board, provided negative urine and hair samples to any prohibited drug, the remaining two months of the disqualification would be suspended.
When contacted by Open Justice, Jazmin declined to comment on the decisions or drug use.
In September, the RIB acknowledged that methamphetamine detections were becoming more common in its decision to ban greyhound trainer Marie Prangley for two-and-a-half years after her dog Thrilling Freddy tested positive for the drug.
In the past 21 years, there have only been about 15 cases where trainers or jockeys have tested positive for methamphetamine.