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Posted 2021-08-13 07:02:22  
Navarro Admits to Doping

Trainer Jorge Navarro has pleaded guilty to orchestrating an elaborate and significant doping program to enhance the performance of his horses over a four-year period and could face up to five years in prison as well as having to pay back over $25 million to victims of his crimes.

In a landmark moment for global horseracing, Navarro, who has trained more than 1,000 winners including the 2019 Dubai Golden Shaheen hero X Y Jet (pictured), admitted intentionally giving or directing others to give illegal blood builders, vaso and bronchodilators, bleeder pills and designer drug SGF-1000 to his horses between 2016 and March 2020 to boost their performance in races and avoid detection in pre- and post-race drug testing.

Navarro, 46, also implicated fellow trainer Jason Servis, who saddled Maximum Security to finish first past the post in the inaugural $20 million Saudi Cup last year, in the doping conspiracy. The owners have yet to be paid their prizemoney.

Both handlers were among 27 individuals arrested in dawn raids carried out by the FBI in March last year after an undercover investigation, including the use of wiretaps, into allegations of the use of performance enhancing drugs (PEDs) in racing. Servis denies the allegations and has pleaded not guilty to the charges against him.

In the most significant moment yet in a case that sent shockwaves through international horseracing when it was unsealed last year, Navarro changed his plea to guilty from not guilty to the charge of conspiring with others to administer non-FDA-approved (Food and Drug Administration), misbranded and adulterated drugs, including drugs intended to increase the performance of his horses.

Navarro told the court of the Southern District of New York: "I administered drugs that were non-FDA approved, misbranded and adulterated to improve the performance of racehorses in my custody. The drugs included blood-building substances, vasodilators, bronchodilators, bleeder pills and SGF-1000.

"I was the organiser for a criminal activity that involved five or more participants. I coordinated the administration of non-FDA approved drugs that were misbranded or adulterated to horses under my care.

"I abused a position of trust as I was a licensed horse trainer and the horses were in my custody at the time of the offence."

As well as admitting to doping horses racing in America, Navarro also stated he had provided PEDs to horses racing in Dubai, confirming wiretap evidence from the indictment against him in which he outlined doping X Y Jet prior to his victory in the 2019 Golden Shaheen.

In the indictment, Navarro said he had used a blood builder similar to erythropoietin that he called "monkey" on X Y Jet, including on the day of the race. "I gave it to him through 50 injections. I gave it to him through the mouth." X Y Jet died of an apparent heart attack in January last year.

The trainer, who had been among the most prolific in the US prior to his arrest, also admitted shipping the illegal drugs from his home in Florida to his base at Monmouth Park in New Jersey and creating false veterinary bills "to deceive racing officials and racetrack employees" as well as providing PEDs to other trainers allegedly involved in the conspiracy.

Asked by judge Mary Kay Vyskocil whether he provided illegal PEDs to any other trainers, Navarro said: "I provided bronchodilators to Jason Servis."

Vet Kristian Rhein pleaded guilty earlier this month for his part in the conspiracy, admitting that he had doped Maximum Security with SGF-1000 prior to his run in a Listed race at Monmouth Park on June 16, 2019 – the horse's first start after he was disqualified from finishing first past the post in the Kentucky Derby for causing interference.

In an intercepted call, Rhein said: "They don't even have a test for it [SGF-1000]... There's no test for it in America."

SGF-1000 was outlined by prosecutors as an undetectable intravenous vasodilator promoted as "capable of promoting stamina, endurance, and lower heart rates in horses through the purported action of growth factors supposedly derived from sheep placenta."

As well as up to five years' imprisonment and a fine of at least $70,000, Navarro must repay $25,860,514 to the victims of his fraudulent activity.

As part of his plead agreement, further counts against Navarro outlined in a superseding indictment last year have been dropped. He is due to be sentenced on December 17.

Giving her verdict on the case, US Attorney Audrey Strauss said: "As he admitted today, Navarro, a licensed trainer and the purported 'winner' of major races across the world, was in fact a reckless fraudster whose veneer of success relied on the systematic abuse of the animals under his control."

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