Campbell removed from world driving event

TORONTO — Calgary’s Brandon Campbell was removed as Canada’s representative for the world driving championship Tuesday after being involved in a positive drug test.

Dan Gall, the president/CEO of Standardbred Canada, said Ima Dude, a horse trained by Campbell, tested positive for ephedrine and pyrilamine and associated metabolites. The violation occurred July 9 at Century Downs Racetrack and Casino near Calgary.

Campbell, 33, received a $4,000 fine and suspension that began Tuesday and will run through Jan. 31, 2018.

“Brandon was the trainer of the horse and subsequently was responsible for the horse,” Gall said in a telephone interview. “I think he was genuinely surprised with it (positive test).

“It’s a category 2, which is high. The fine and suspension … that’s fairly significant for a driver.”

It’s also the second positive test involving Campbell in roughly three months. On May 15, he received a $100 fine and 30-day suspension from Horse Racing Alberta after testing positive for marijuana.

Campbell was also fined $100 by HRA on May 7 for using an exaggerated movement of whipping during a race.

Ephedrine is one of four active components of the herb Ephedra. It’s a stimulant that helps reduce the swelling and constriction of blood vessels in nasal passages that helps widen airways to the lungs, allowing for much easier breathing.

Pyrilamine is an antihistamine used for allergies and is a common ingredient in cold remedies for humans. In horses, it helps reduce or prevent allergic reactions to histamines.

Gall said Campbell can appeal the fine and suspension but wasn’t sure if Campbell had done so or intended to.

Campbell’s replacement hasn’t yet been determined. And with the world driving championship slated to begin Aug. 12, time is of the essence.

James MacDonald, a Charlottetown native now living in Guelph, Ont., would seem a logical choice. MacDonald finished second to Campbell in qualifying for the world event but Gall said it’s not necessarily that simple.

“Only if he’s agreeable and available,” he said. “That’s the problem … these guys are booked up with races, commitments.

“At present, we’re looking at all options and hoping we’ll have some fairly good news on that in the immediate future.”

Campbell began his harness-racing career in 2003. He has driven over 1,300 winners and amassed more than $8 million in earnings.

Campbell qualified for the world championship by winning the Canadian driving title in October 2016. He’d accumulated the most points during the eight-race tournament over seven other drivers to capture the honour.

Campbell finished first in the overall standings with 63 points — seven ahead of MacDonald — to qualify for his first-ever world championship on his third attempt.

The ‘17 world driving championship will be held at various tracks across Canada from Aug. 12-18. A field of 11 drivers representing 10 countries — New Zealand will have two competitors because Dexter Dunn is the defending champion — will compete in 22 races at five racetracks in four provinces.

Drivers earn points based upon their final position and the one accumulating the most will be declared champion and receive $25,000 in prize money.

The first leg begins Aug. 12 at Century Downs Racetrack in Balzac, Alta. The others are scheduled for Mohawk Racetrack in Campbellville, Ont. (Aug. 14), Georgian Downs in Innisfil, Ont. (Aug. 15.), Hippodrome 3R in Trois-Rivieres, Que., (Aug. 16) and Prince Edward Island and Red Shores Racetrack in Charlottetown (Aug. 18).

Canadian drivers have won the event four times — Herve Filion (1970), Sylvain Filion (1999), Jody Jamieson (2001, ‘11) — but none has done so on home soil.

Dan Ralph, The Canadian Press

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