AUGUSTA, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- Some major penalties have been handed down from the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry against the Harness Racing community. 7 different drivers and owners have been found guilty of providing cobalt to their horses. Cobalt is a banned substance statewide as it can help boost the performance of the horse. Involvement with cobalt can also be very harmful to a horses' health, sometimes leading to death.
- Steven Vafiades was the most penalized, after being suspended for 450 days, fined $2,250 and being ordered to repay just under $23K of purse money.
- Randy Bickmore has also been suspended for 450 days and fined $2,250. Bickmore has been ordered to repay almost 11K in purse money.
- Patricia Switzer has been suspended 450 days, fined $2,250 and has been ordered to repay just under 7K in purse money.
- Stephen Murchison has been suspended for 450 days, fined $2,250 and has been ordered to repay $4,250 in purse money..
- Drew Campbell, who has won more than 3000 races in his career, has been suspended for 270 days, fined $1,250 and has been ordered to repay $2,150 in purse money.
- Allison McDonald has been ordered to repay $1,250 in purse money and Frank Hiscock has been ordered to repay $1,200 in purse money.
Several of the trainers are appealing their penalties and suspensions.