Imagine if 52 percent of pitchers in the World Series, cyclists at the Tour De France, or running backs in the NFL playoffs were caught using illegal substances? There would be recriminations, investigations, and people ousted from the sports. Executives would be fired, and team owners stripped of their ownership rights. But not in the show world of Tennessee walking horses – there, it's business as usual.
The USDA's foreign substance testing results come just months after the agency released a report revealing 219 violations of the Horse Protection Act among 1,075 horses inspected at the 2014 Celebration – double the number of violations found at the 2013 event.
Even the Celebration's own newly minted Veterinary Advisory Committee (VAC) – which itself was little more than a sham, with one of the three veterinarians not even apprised that he had been selected and the other two appointees firmly in the Big Lick camp – found problems with non-compliance. According to the VAC's blood-testing program at the 2014 Celebration, 36 of the 230 horses sampled were found in violation, having been administered one or more of the substances prohibited by the VAC. The VAC's list – separate and apart from the USDA's list of banned soring chemicals – was published weeks before the Celebration. The VAC even provided a corresponding clearance time for each prohibited substance, so entrants would know just how much time was needed for a particular substance to pass through a horse's system, and still trainers tried to cheat their way to a blue ribbon and some name recognition. The VAC released the names of 30 horses it found in violation. Of those, 11 were named world grand champions; 14 other horses placed first in at least one class entered at the Celebration.