The New York State Gaming Commission today took unprecedented action against six Standardbred trainers who administered potentially dangerous and performance-enhancing doses of cobalt to race horses in violation of Commission racing rules.

Harness trainers Tyler J. Nostadt, Joseph Carrubba, Dennis M. Washington, Sean M. Campbell, Megan M. Gilmour and Dawn M. DeVaux have been suspended immediately by the Commission and face significant additional sanctions. Horses trained by Nostadt, Carrubba and Washington were found to contain cobalt at egregious enough levels to warrant minimum 10-year bans from the sport for those trainers. The six trainers’ violations occurred at Monticello Casino and Raceway, Saratoga Casino and Raceway and Yonkers Raceway in March 2016.

The Commission will refer these matters to appropriate law enforcement for contemplation of animal cruelty charges.

“The Commission has found multiple harness horse trainers exhibiting reckless disregard for horse health and safety in the name of trying to gain unfair advantages,” said Commission Executive Director Robert Williams. “They are being held accountable for their actions.”

According to New York State Equine Medical Director Scott E. Palmer, VMD, low levels of cobalt, a naturally-occurring element with properties similar to those of iron and nickel, are present in all horses and are not considered to be harmful. It can be found in many horse feeds and vitamin supplements. However, according to Dr. Palmer, there is no therapeutic reason to administer large doses of cobalt to horses. Administration of high doses of cobalt salts to horses has the potential to enhance athletic performance in a manner similar to blood doping agents and can cause detrimental effects on a number of body systems, including tachycardia, hypertension and cardiac arrhythmias.

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