Bob Baffert hits out at 'cancel culture' after Kentucky Derby doping positive

Hall of Fame trainer suspended after winner Medina Spirit found with traces of the steroid betamethasone in its system

Bob Baffert, trainer of Kentucky Derby winner Medina Spirit, stands near the track at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky, U.S. April 28, 2021. Picture taken April 28, 2021.  REUTERS/Bryan Woolston

Three-time Dubai World Cup winning trainer Bob Baffert has denied any wrongdoing following the failed drugs test of his Kentucky Derby winner Medina Spirit.

The Protonico colt could be only the second Kentucky Derby winner in history to be stripped of the title for doping offenses after Dancer’s Image was disqualified in 1968.

Tests have revealed Medina Spirit had traces of the steroid betamethasone found in the horse's system.

It is the latest in a series of doping cases that have rocked Baffert's stable in recent years and has left US racing in turmoil.

The American Hall of Fame trainer is now risking a lengthy ban from the sport if confirmed.

Baffert told Fox News in an interview he had never cheated, and said his immediate suspension by Churchill Downs racecourse on Sunday had left him a victim of “cancel culture".

He said the betamethasone - which is legal in US racing provided it is not administered within 14 days of competition - could have been accidentally or deliberately contaminated with the substance.

“It did not happen,” he said. “That horse has never been treated with [betamethasone]. Actually, it's a legal therapeutic medicine and the amount that was in it wouldn't have any effect on the horse anyway.

“But that horse was never treated with that and so that's the disturbing part of it. I never thought I'd have to be fighting for my reputation and the poor horse's reputation.

“We live in a new world now. These horses don't live in a bubble. They're in an open farm. People are touching them.”

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

“There's so many ways these horses can get contaminated and when they're testing at these really ridiculously low levels - I've been saying it for over a year now these are gonna get innocent people in trouble and this is what happened now,” Baffert said.

"Bob Baffert is not stupid," the trainer added. "That is not a drug that I would use on a horse. We don't use that drug. The horse never had that in him. We have the documentation. We're going to show everything."

Baffert has entered Medina Spirit in this weekend's 146th Preakness Stakes at Pimlico in Baltimore, the second leg of US racing's prestigious Triple Crown.

However, it is still not clear if Maryland Jockey Club would allow Medina Spirit to race. The draw for the race has been delayed for 24 hours until Tuesday following Sunday's doping bombshell.

Baffert meanwhile criticised Churchill Downs racetrack for suspending him following the drugs test revelation.

“Churchill Downs came out with that statement and that was pretty harsh,” he said.

“We live in a different world. This America is different. This was a cancel culture kind of thing.”