‘People Seem To Like The Bad Guy LOL LOL’: Documents In Federal Doping Case Reveal New Side Of 2019 Pennsylvania Drug Case - Horse Racing News | Paulick Report
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‘People Seem To Like The Bad Guy LOL LOL’: Documents In Federal Doping Case Reveal New Side Of 2019 Pennsylvania Drug Case

A series of documents filed by prosecutors in the 2020 federal doping case reveal a previously unknown service offered by veterinarian Dr. Louis Grasso to his clients – help getting out of positive post-race or pre-race drug tests.

The government filed its pre-sentencing report on co-defendants Grasso and trainer Rene Allard Oct. 20. Both entered guilty pleas to drug adulteration and misbranding charges earlier this year. While the documents mostly recall information from the indictments about the frequency and types of substances used by both, Grasso's report goes farther.

Prosecutors have already stated that Grasso was offering to write prescriptions for any substance desired to his clients for $100, including prescriptions for erythropoietin, a blood-doping drug. He was also allowing his veterinary license to be used by co-defendant Donato Poliseno after his previous source for a veterinary license number died unexpectedly.

Read our 2022 reporting about the untimely death of Dr. Edward Conner here.

Grasso also made and peddled his own drugs.

“Unlike legitimate drug manufacturers, the defendant conducted no studies to determine the safety and efficacy of his drugs, undertook no compliance measures to ensure that the drugs were properly manufactured, and disregarded the medical necessity or propriety of distributing drugs in bulk without valid prescriptions,” the report read.

Almost all of those were sold to trainers in bulk quantities, allowing laypeople to determine which horses got how much and when.

But perhaps the most disturbing revelation in the report is that Grasso, on two separate occasions, was employed by trainers to deliver false testimony in their defense against drug positives with state racing commissions.

In one conversation with an unidentified trainer, Grasso told the trainer “you will have to get a veterinarian to back you up and bring some kind of documentation that the horse was in a clinic and being jugged and had a fever and yadda yadda yadda and there is a possibility you can get out of it.”

Grasso further warned that the person could find a veterinarian willing to go to bat for them, adding, “I mean you give them enough money.”

Grasso admitted in another conversation that he had once performed this service for co-defendant Rene Allard.

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Attached to the government's pre-sentencing report for Allard was a partial excerpt of a 2019 appeal decision out of Pennsylvania that described testimony of Grasso on behalf of Allard. The horse in question was Kings Barns according to Allard's record in the USTA database but was abbreviated to KB in the written appeal decision.

“Dr. Grasso described KB as an 'average racehorse' who was 'slightly excitable' and 'immunodepressed,'” according to the decision. “He confirmed that, due to the horse's illness, he had recommended the scratching of KB from its scheduled Aug. 11, 2018, race. He described the symptoms of the illness as including a respiratory infection, fever, dehydration and lack of appetite.”

Read more about Allard and Grasso's defense pre-sentencing reports here.

Grasso also testified the horse had spiked a fever of 105.7 and a hematocrit reading of 59%, indicative of severe hydration for which he was treating the horse. The horse allegedly spiked a temperature again and received fluids and a medication to reduce his fever.

The excerpt indicates that the positive test occurred before a race KB won on July 7, 2018. It appears to suggest that the horse was originally out of normal limits on a base-excess test, which is a measure of blood pH, but that a retest put the horse in normal limits.

The board of stewards at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono had fined Allard $1,000 and suspended him 30 days, but after hearing the testimony of Grasso and others, decided to reverse their previous ruling.

Meanwhile, in private conversations, Grasso bragged to a third trainer “Grasso 2, Commission 0.”

Detail is not provided on which other trainer may have benefitted from false testimony by Grasso.

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Grasso awaits sentencing with a significant record that prosecutors claim clearly shows he has no problem acting against the law. In 1992, Grasso had been arrested and was subsequently convicted for distributing anabolic steroids. On multiple occasions, he was found to have sold drugs to an undercover officer, resulting in three years of probation and 400 hours of community service. In 2000, he was again arrested for dispensing controlled substances in Delaware, where he was not licensed. He later negotiated a deal with prosecutors in that case and pled guilty to resisting arrest, resulting in a one-year suspended sentence and a year's probation. He lost his Drug Enforcement Agency license as a result.

In a text message to an unidentified person, Grasso wrote he has “ALWAYS been the bad guy so that's [his] reputation” that he “plays into it because it keeps the persona where [he] likes it!!!” and “all it does is make [his] business even larger [because] people seem to like the bad guy LOL LOL.”

In the pre-sentencing report on Allard, prosecutors highlighted the length and profitability of his illegal drug use, which they allege brought him an income of over $3 million in 2019 and more than $20 million in purses total. Allard was fond of administering or directing administration of drenches, which are given via a nasogastric tube immediately before a race.

“In one instance, Allard was even caught red-handed tubing and drenching a horse scheduled to race that day – which no trainer is permitted to do – and abruptly fled the stall when he was caught,” the report read.

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This is followed by a citation to an exhibit which was filed under seal, so no further information about the incident was publicly available.

Prosecutors accuse Allard of trying to cover his doping and other questionable activity by maintaining a supply closet in his barn that was labeled with Grasso's name and which contained a shockwave machine and a “small pharmacy's worth of drugs, including ingredients he used to mix his own drenches.” The government claims it was Allard who primarily used those items and the labeling was insurance in case anyone asked questions about the contents.

The report also notes that Allard was successful in overturning a positive for codeine and morphine in Ontario, in addition to the Pennsylvania TCO2 case in which Grasso testified. Another TCO2 case in 2019 was dismissed due to an equipment malfunction. A 2016 positive test for oxycodone was also rescinded.

In the case of Grasso, prosecutors are advocating for five years in federal prison. For Allard, they're requesting 30 months.

Sentencing for both is scheduled for Nov. 15 at 11 a.m. before U.S. District Judge P. Kevin Castel in New York.

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