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UPDATE: Brandon Campbell ‘removed’ from World Driving Championships

Harness racer and Fraser Downs competitor will not represent Canada in World Championships
Brandon Campbell, centre, at the colours presentation at Fraser Downs racetrack, April 21. (Sam Anderson)

On Tuesday morning, President and CEO of Standardbred Canada Dan Gall announced that, “effective immediately, Standardbred Canada has removed Brandon Campbell as Canada’s representative for the 2017 World Driving Championship.”

The decision comes following Campbell’s suspension from competing after his horse Ima Dude failed the routine test for performance-enhancing drugs at a race in Calgary in early July.

On July 9, during race five at Century Downs racetrack, Ima Dude tested positive for ephedrine and its metabolite phenylpropanolamine, and pyrilamine and its metabolite o-desmethylphrilamine.

The violation incurred a $4,000 fine and a full suspension from racing until January 31, 2018, which means that Campbell will be unable to compete in the competition set for this August.

Gall said that he had been told the test positive was for an antihistamine powder that was prescribed by a veterinarian for Campbell’s horse, Ima Dude.

“The positive may have been the result of the prescribed powder being accidentally administered too close to race time or the amount used may have exceeded the prescribed amount,” said Gall. “This antihistamine is something that is commonly used to help horses with respiratory issues and allergies.”

But the suspension still stands, and prevents Campbell and his horses from racing at all Alberta racetracks for a period of six months.

“Going into an international competition that Canada is hosting in less than two weeks time with a driver that received a major fine and suspension due to a positive test is not indicative to what we want our association to be promoting and supporting to fellow Canadians or the international community,” said Gall.

“Standardbred Canada made a decision based on the conditions of participation and what we believe is best for the sport and the industry,” he said.

Campbell would have been the first driver from western Canada to represent the country in the World Driving Championships 25-year history.

Since Campbell started his career in harness racing in 2003, he has driven more than 1,300 winners and earned more than $8 million for them.

Campbell is a familiar face at Fraser Downs – he was the leading dash driver on the track in 2015. His official Canadian driving colours and helmet were presented at the winner’s circle at Fraser Downs on April 21. Gall and Harness Racing BC Executive Director Carla Robin presented the colours to him in a special ceremony.

Campbell qualified for the World Championships by winning the 2016 National Driving Championships in October 2016, and he was expected to compete in the 2017 World Driving Championships across the country from August 12 to 18.

It was Campbell’s third time competing in nationals, and his first victory. “It’s just a dream come true to do this,” Campbell told the Reporter in April. “I’m just very excited.”

MacDonald will now represent Canada

Standardbred Canada announced on Wednesday (Aug. 2) that James MacDonald will replace Campbell as the Canadian representative in the 2017 World Driving Championships.

MacDonald, 31, is originally from Charlottetown, P.E.I., and now lives in Guelph, Ontario. He is among Canada’s top-five drivers, with nearly $1.8 million earned, and currently has 95 wins this season. He placed second at the National Driving Championships in October, 2016.

In a press release, MacDonald said, “It means a lot, obviously” to represent the country in the international championships.

“I would’ve liked if it had happened on different terms,” he said, “but I’m really excited, I can’t wait to wear the red and white and to compete all across Canada.”

“I’m just happy to be here, especially with the last leg being in PEI. It’s a big deal for me. I haven’t been home in three years. I get to see some friends and family and I’m sure there will be a big turnout rooting for me,” said MacDonald.