New York County
Article 78 Proceeding
Petitioners Archibald Cox III and Meredith Mateo (collectively, “Petitioners”), bring this special proceeding seeking relief pursuant to NYCPLR Article 78 to vacate a Final Order issued by Respondent United States Equestrian Federation, Inc. (“USEF”) against Petitioners which found violations of USEF’s anti-doping rules, imposed fines, and suspended Petitioner Cox’s membership and right to participate in, observe, or attend any USEF competition. USEF’s Final Order against Petitioners is not supported by “substantial evidence” within the meaning of CPLR 7803(4) and should, therefore, be vacated. In the alternative, Petitioners request that the Court order a hearing to determine whether the scientific evidence upon which Petitioners’ violations were based has attained general acceptance in the relevant scientific community, as required under New York law.
Respondent USEF, the national governing body of the equestrian sport, prohibits its members from administering gamma-aminobutyric acid (“GABA”) (a naturally occurring substance) in horses shown at its competitions. The difficulty is since the substance is naturally occurring (endogenous to horses and humans), USEF’s ban on the introduction of GABA in excess of “natural” levels is fraught with scientific missteps. Significantly, the natural or endogenous level of GABA in horses is not yet scientifically known, as described below and in the Affidavit, Dr. Steven A. Barker filed herewith. The only peer-reviewed study of the topic to date concluded no such “normal” level exists in horses. To make matters worse, the testing protocol USEF used here (and which forms the only evidence USEF has) is not scientifically valid or accepted in the relevant scientific community. The alleged violations are based solely on these test results. USEF’s Final Order thus relied upon evidence failing to meet the requirements of bedrock New York law.
On August 20, 2015, USEF found that two of its members – Petitioners Cox (a horse trainer) and Mateo (a horse owner) – violated this GABA ban based solely on the results of a novel and unproven testing protocol that purported to show elevated levels of GABA in Petitioners’ show horse, Cartaire. Because the reliability of USEF’s GABA protocol is belied by several scientific red flags, and it has not been validated or accepted by any expert outside of USEF, the Final Order at issue is not supported by “substantial evidence” within the meaning of CPLR 7803(4), and should, therefore, be vacated. USEF has no other evidence.
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View Full USEF v Jenkins Transcript (only on HorseAuthority.co)
July 2016 – Court finds for USEF