Horseracing

Trainer suspended 16 years after horses test positive for Viagra

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M.

New Mexico horse racing regulators are disciplining a trainer because four horses tested positive last July at Ruidoso Downs for a prohibited drug that's an ingredient of Viagra.

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John Stinebaugh received four suspensions adding up to 16 years and a $40,000 fine and must forfeit $8,000 in purses, Racing Commission executive Vince Mares said.

The prohibited drug was Sildenafil, the Albuquerque Journal reported.

Mares said the drug increases a horse's cardiac output and the resulting increased endurance allows it to run faster. He said New Mexico regulators hadn't detected use of the drug in recent years.

"That drug has no business being in a horse. It has no medicinal or therapeutic value in a horse," Mares said.

According to Mares, Stinebaugh's penalty was relatively tough because he had a previous infraction involving a different drug and because the state recently stiffened its penalties.

Suspensions can run up to 25 years, Mares said. "It is just a more proactive approach to . . . the doping problem in New Mexico."

Stinebaugh has until Thursday to appeal the ruling issued Monday by a three-member panel of department employees.

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