Baffert tears “cancel culture” after positive derby doping

Legendary trainer Bob Baffert protested Monday that he was innocent after Kentucky Derby winner Medina Spirit failed a drug test that had upset US racing.

Medina Spirit may become only the second Kentucky Derby winner in history to be stripped of the title for doping offenses after traces of the steroid betamethasone were found in the horse’s system.

It’s the latest in a string of doping cases that have rocked Baffert’s stable in recent years, and leaves the Hall of Fame coach risking a lengthy ban from the sport if confirmed.

Baffert told Fox News in an interview Monday he never cheated, and said his immediate suspension from Churchill Downs racetrack on Sunday made him a victim of “abandonment culture.”

Baffert told Fox that Medina Spirit had never been administered betamethasone – which is legal in US racing provided it is not administered within 14 days of competition – and suggested the horse may have been accidentally or intentionally contaminated with the substance could be.

“It didn’t happen,” Baffert told the network. “This horse has never been treated with (betamethasone). Actually it is a legal therapeutic drug and the amount that was in it would have no effect on the horse anyway.

“But this horse has never been treated with it and that’s the worrying part of it. I never thought I would have to fight for my reputation and the poor horse’s reputation.

“We now live in a new world. These horses don’t live in a bubble,” he said. “They are in an open farm. People touch them. He went from derby to derby, everyone’s out there touching them.”

Kentucky racing authorities last year changed the threshold for a positive betamethasone test from 10 picograms per milliliter of plasma to 21 picograms per milliliter. A picogram is one trillionth of a gram.

“There are so many ways that these horses can become contaminated, and if they test at these really ridiculously low levels — I’ve been saying it for over a year, they’re going to get innocent people into trouble, and that’s what’s happened now,” Baffert said .

“Bob Baffert is not stupid,” added the coach. “It’s not a drug that I would use on a horse. We don’t use this drug. The horse never had it in it. We have the documentation. We’ll show everything.”

Baffert, meanwhile, said he plans to take Medina Spirit into this weekend’s Preakness Stakes at Pimlico in Baltimore, the second leg of US racing’s prestigious Triple Crown.

However, it was not clear if Medina Spirit of the Maryland Jockey Club would be allowed to race. The draw for the race was postponed by 24 hours to Tuesday after the doping bomb on Sunday.

Baffert, meanwhile, criticized Churchill Downs racetrack for suspending him after the drug test revelation.

“Churchill Downs came out with that statement and that was pretty tough,” he said. “We live in a different world. This America is different. That was a kind of break-off culture.”

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