The USEF doping case against Hunter professionals Larry Glefke and Kelley Farmer rocked the equestrian world earlier this year; not necessarily because Larry and Kelley are strangers to controversy, but because of the swift and public nature of their suspension and rebuke by US Equestrian — and the chaos that followed. And it didn’t get any less strange with time.
What started as a very public and seemingly irrevocable statement by US Equestrian on the eve of their convention has spiraled into a bizarre series of statements from the defendants’ legal team and a step back on the part of the USEF, with still much to be determined in the coming weeks.
In the interest of being an informed audience on clean sport – one of the most vital and potentially sinister elements of equine competition – we have compiled the chronology and facts of this case, and let you know what to expect going forward.
The USEF released the results of their pending doping case regarding “Unexpected” a gelding owned and ridden by Kelley Farmer and trained by Larry Glefke. On July 28, 2016 at the Kentucky Summer Show, the horse tested positive for GABA, a category IV substance which can “mellow out” a horse for performance purposes.
According the USEF, this doping violation was an additional offense by both Larry and Kelley – Larry had pending cases with USEF involving acepromazine (ace), and Kelley had previous violations relating to reserpine. This contributed to the significance of the penalties: a $12,000 fine and 12 month suspension for Kelley, and a $24,000 fine and 24 month suspension for Larry.
The statement did not indicate when the suspensions were to begin, but the implication was that it would be fairly immediate.
They allege neither party or representative attended any hearings on the matter.
Kelly and Larry’s lawyers release a response to USEF’s suspension, alleging, primarily:
- Neither Kelly, Larry, nor their teams knew of any alleged hearing on November 29, 2016.
- They point out in this statement that Larry was under investigation for other violations and USEF team members never seemed to mention this one when they were in the same room.
- They suggest that USEF violated due process and thus violated United States Olympic Committee (USOC) rules for governing bodies.
- They insist on a new hearing
Jumper Nation sends an inquiry to the USEF asking for clarification in regards to the date of the suspension, as it appeared from show records that there had been no interruption to Kelley Farmer’s show schedule between the announcement and early February.
US Equestrian responded to our inquiry, stating “The suspension for Glefke and Farmer in the Gaba case is set to begin on July 1.”
The USEF announces that they are granting a re-hearing to the defendants because of a petition filed by Larry and Kelley stating they were “not properly notified of the violation and subsequent hearing.” They also state that they plan to resolve the matter prior to July 1, 2017. (It appears the new hearing was set for June 6, 2017.)
Just days before the re-hearing with US Equestrian, Rate My Horse PRO released an exclusive report stating that Larry and Kelley had filed a complaint with the USOC seeking emergency oversight and a six month probation against USEF. They claim there were inconsistencies with the A and B samples from the horse, paperwork issues, and claim that US Equestrian denied Kelley and Larry the right to present their findings on the lab testing.
The latter part of this is congruent with what USEF announced in February, saying they would hear a defense from Larry and Kelley, but would not re-hash the laboratory findings.
The USOC has not commented on whether or not they plan to act on the claim.
Where Do We Go From Here?
Presumably, Larry, Kelley, and their legal team presented their defense to the USEF’s Hearing Committee on June 6, and we expect some notification on their decision prior to July 1.
Unexpected is no longer in the custody of Larry Glefke or Kelley Farmer; he was sold in February to Lindsay Maxwell and has been showing successfully with her and Liza Boyd across the eastern seaboard this spring.
As to the emergency injunction with the USOC, only time will tell if they have any realistic means of involving themselves in this matter. One fascinating opinion is available at Equestrian Legal Counsel with attorney Armand Leone, who explains why this is even a possibility and if he thinks the USOC is likely to get involved. (Spoiler Alert: He doesn’t.)
Only one final fact remains untouched from Larry and Kelley’s multiple statements about the case: They address USEF’s ‘public pat on the back’, their failure to allow due process, their alleged laboratory mishandling, and the unfairness of it all, but never once do they deny that the horse was given GABA to alter his performance.
It’s impossible to ignore that while the USEF – imperfect body though it may be – repeatedly claimed to be seeking the best interest of horse welfare and fair play, the defendants never claimed their innocence, mentioned Unexpected’s welfare, or bothered to attempt the portrayal of horror or sadness this would cause a top horseman (Exhibit A: GP Dressage rider Adrienne Lyle, who was ultimately exonerated). Whether they are unquestionably guilty or entirely innocent, the optics to most fans are that Larry Glefke and Kelley Farmer have dreadfully lost their way.