In a major development to the Federal Doping Case, trainer Jorge Navarro entered a guilty plea on Wednesday August 11th, 2021.
Navarro, 46, once considered a top-tier U.S. horse trainer, admitted to his position in the wide-ranging doping scandal, which involved the manufacturing and distribution of adulterated and misbranded drugs.
"I confirm that approximately 2016 through Mar. 9, 2020, I administered, and, at times, directed [others] working under my direction to administer non-FDA-approved, misbranded, adulterated drugs to increase performance of racehorses under my custody and care," Navarro said.
"[Drugs] were administered to horses without a valid prescription," Navarro continued. "The drugs [were] blood-building substances, vasodilators, and imported, misbranded bronchodilators, 'bleeder' pills, and SGF-1000." (ThoroughbredDailyNews)
The change of plea to guilty comes eight days after co-conspirator, veterinarian Kristian Rhein pled guilty before the same U.S. District Judge Mary Kay Vyskocil. Rhein admitted his own role in supplying illegal substances to Navarro and 14 others facing charges.
"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," said Audrey Strauss, acting U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York.
According to the statement by the U.S. Department of Justice, both Navarro and Rhein have used their positions to acquire , promote, and administer prohibited performance enhancing drugs.
Navarro imported misbranded "clenbuterol" that he both used and distributed to others. He coordinated the administration of the substances during times where racing officials wouldn't detect it. Also prominent in the Navarro-Rhein PED supply was the drug "SGF-1000."
According to the same summary by the U.S. Justice Department, Clenbuterol was: "used as a bronchodilator, and the drug ‘SGF-1000', which was compounded and manufactured in unregistered facilities and contained growth factors the defendants knew to be undetectable through regular drug screens." Read in full here.
In one example cited by prosecutors, Navarro was accused of injecting PEDs to the late X Y JET prior to his win in the $1.5 million Dubai Golden Shaheen in 2019. Ten months later, Navarro announced the 8-year-old gelding died of a heart attack.
Prosecutors alleged Rhein helped dope DQ-ed 2019 Kentucky Derby winner MAXIMUM SECURITY. In an intercepted call following MAXIMUM SECURITY's second-place finish, Rhein was found to have asserted that MAXIMUM SECURITY would not test positive for SGF-1000: "...they don't even have a test for it [SGF-1000]... There's no test for it in America."
Navarro faces a max prison term of five years, and agreed to pay $25,860,514 in restitution for fraudulently-obtained winnings through his illegal operation. Navarro will be sentenced on December 17, 2021, while Rhein will be sentenced on December 2, 2021.
Rhein and others "working in Rhein's direction" were found to have produced false billing records for horse owners, which didn't reflect the actual drugs Rhein and others were injecting into their racehorses. Rhein has agreed to pay restitution in the amount of $729,716.
The U.S. Justice Department's immediate release statement can be found here.
Source: Justice Department, Marketwatch, ThorougbredDailyNews