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Costas/Irwin interview: May 21, 2011

NBC's Bob Costas interviewed Team Valor's Barry Irwin during Saturday's Preakness telecast. USA Today's Sports TV columnist Michael Hiestand called the exchange "a gritty change of pace."

The give-and-take included follow-up on Irwin's post-Derby knock on trainers, a call for FBI investigation into 'designer' drugs, and a defiance of the status quo that Irwin feels makes him to some both a pariah and a 'Boy Scout'.

Below is a transcript of much of the interview with the self-admittedly out-spoken Irwin.

Bob Costas interviews Barry Irwin on NBC's Preakness telecast, 5/21/11

Bob Costas: OK, you put Graham Motion in charge of all of Team Valor's horses, after the Derby Bob Neumeier asks you why you'd done that. You said you were tired of trainers lying to you. What did they lie to you about?

Barry Irwin: Well, I don't really want to go into that whole thing ---

Bob Costas: --- Not individuals. Not individuals.

Barry Irwin: I'd like to get that thing behind me, but, um, I really didn't think that was a great questions for Bob to be asking me at that moment. You know, I was really excited and everything and I wasn't thinking. I regretted what I said. The substance of it I stick behind. I mean, most trainers they lie by the sin of omission, that's number one. And some guys just don't want to give you bad news. They don't want to tell you what's wrong with your horse. I'm a guy that can handle bad news and so I want to get it. And some guys weren't -- and I had a bad stretch, not only here but in South Africa where I also hired one guy to train all my horses, and I just wanted a guy that would be there every day and tell me exactly what was going on.

Bob Costas: So you regretted it not because you don't stand by the comments but because of the occasion, immediately after winning the Derby. You would have chosen a different time if you had your druthers.

Barry Irwin: Correct.

Bob Costas: OK. Part of your concern -- and it's shared by many -- is the rampant use of drugs in the sport. It's much more tightly controlled in Europe and Australia for example. There's bipartisan legislation now that would tighten things up across the country. You favor it?

Barry Irwin: I'm all for it. I can't wait. One thing I'd like to see happen in this sport is I'd like to see the FBI get involved. There are a certain amount of guys that are always going to want to cheat. There's tons of guys out there that will sell drugs to these people but there's only a few guys that can use it and it's the same guys year-in and year-out. I'm not talking about the drugs people know everyday - bute, lasix, all that stuff - I'm talking designer drugs. Drugs like the BALCO guys had. We need to get the FBI to investigate that kind of stuff. Pass this legislation that's three strikes and you're out. And then root these guys out of the sport.

Bob Costas: Two more things quickly - you were quoted recently as saying, "A lot of people are hoping my fifteen minutes of fame will be up quickly."

Barry Irwin: Right. I believe that.

Bob Costas: Why?

Barry Irwin: Well, I think I've shaken up a few things. I'm outspoken and if you look at this horse he broke all the rules. Strange sire. Imported dam. Imported sire. I raise them a little bit differently. I don't do cosmetic changes to their legs. When I breed a horse to run I want it to be as pristine as possible and most people in Kentucky, a lot of the big commercial guys, they don't follow that code.

Bob Costas: Last thing, you beefed up security around Animal Kingdom. Did you really fear - because of your own comments and maybe your unpopularity in some circles, that there might be some retribution?

Barry Irwin: Um, here's what I thought: That Graham and I are like a couple of Boy Scouts, so to speak. We're vulnerable targets. Graham is not out-spoken but I know what he believes in. I am out-spoken and I'm like a perfect target. I'm sure somebody would like to see one of my horses come up with a positive so they could say, "See, he's just like all these other guys."


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