Maryland Steroid Positives Raise Questions For Veterinarians

by | 06.21.2015 | 8:00am

In a recent commentary for DVM 360, Dr. Ed Kane wrote that the anabolic steroid positives detected in Maryland at the end of 2014 and 2015 raise a number of questions about the responsibilities of veterinarians on the backstretch. Although experts agree that there are appropriate applications of anabolic steroids in the treatment of certain ailments, the hormones should not be used as performance enhancers.

One of the complicating aspects of the administration and regulation of hormones is that stanozolol, one of the anabolic steroids authorities test for, can have sustained-release properties. According to Dr. Mary Scollay, equine medical director of the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission, stanozolol is a liquid that contains solid particles of different sizes. The small particles break down and release the steroid more quickly, while larger particles take more time to have their effects.

The process gets messier when the trainer opts to use compounded products, either on their own or at the behest of a veterinarian. Depending on the source, there can be variability in the amount of active ingredient in compounded products containing steroids, which means, experts say, veterinarians need to be more conservative in their timeline for bringing the horse back to the races.

Ultimately, a veterinarian's responsibility depends on whether they have prescribed or recommended the product, but in that situations, regulators told Kane that practitioners should be considered responsible if their treatment results in a positive test.

Read more at DVM 360

  • martin

    it’s about time vets were held responsible for something. these drugs aren’t just on a drug store shelf. and they don’t get into the horse by magic.

    • Alex

      These drugs and others may not be sitting in the open in a pharmacy. However most anything can be bought on the Internet.
      The bigger question is why do regulators take away useful medications that help injured horses heal?

      • Jocke Muth

        Because trainers abuse them, any horse that needs anabolic steroids should be on a farm recovering for at least 6 months after being treated.

        • AngelaFromAbilene

          Bingo.

        • Lynn

          There was a threshold to allow for the use of Stanozolol where a horse could benefit from the use of Stanozolol to help heal an injury. A single treatment of Stanozolol will assist in healing injured tissue for a few weeks, after 30 days there is little or no biological activity
          from a single treatment of Stanozolol.
          Most treatments were done at least 30 days and more often 45 to 60 days prior to running in a race. With testing now available at the Femtogram (fg) or 0.000,000,000,000,001 of a single gram.
          One treatment of Stanozolol will likely be detected for a year or more after all biological activity of the Stanozolol has been long gone. Does this really make any sense?

          • Jocke Muth

            And it was used by almost every trainer in the US for 95% of the horses in training, if thats not abuse then please explain what you define as abuse.

          • Lynn

            What data are you using to support this figure, 95% of horses in the United States are receiving Stanozolol???????????????
            If what you say is correct for Stanozolol, quote “used by almost every trainer in the US for 95% of the horses in training”.
            Today a single dose of Stanozolol if tested for at the limits of current technology of the Femtogram level will produce a positive test even if the Stanozolol was given a year ago. Then up to 95% of all horses racing should in theory test positive for Stanozolol. 95% of all horses racing are not found positive for Stanozolol. So it is not likely that 95 % of the horses getting Stanozolol.

          • Jocke Muth

            Observe the word WAS in my post that you answered.
            I did suspect you for being another name for that crazy KY vet who posted here on and of, but at least she comprehended what she was reading.

          • Ben van den Brink

            At least Lynn is supporting the NAARV, just like in the case that state vet,s are administrating lasix. They are afraid of losing income, and that is the only reason, that every treatment is allowed by this group.
            The same as with the cobalt supply. The group is afraid that the truck loaded with needles bottles and synringes is not needed anymore.

            Vet,s are about the same as trade sellers in the US, the higher the sales, the higher their income.

          • Alex

            You are running true to form and missing the facts of the article along with relevant posts. Dr. Scollay a non clinical practicing Veterinarian and elite regulator states and is quoted that anabolic steroids including compounded Stanozolol help horses recover from injuries. That’s undisputed. Dr. Scollay goes on to say neither her or her agency prohibit the use of anabolis steroids from helping horses. However what Dr. Scollay said verses the real effects of the model rules she is a part of and no Stanozolol whatever is allowed just don’t mesh. As Lynn states you can not have it both ways.
            In other posts it is reported that the vets had the Stanozolol on the treatment sheets as required. Neither the horsemans or veterinarian’s were directory notified in the change in the rules. Unless you attended the Maryland Racing Commission meeting when the threshold for Stanozolol was removed there is not likely you could have been aware of the rule change.

          • Ben van den Brink

            t is recognized that there are medications that may be used in
            the treatment of illness or injury in the horse that are not on the
            Controlled Therapeutic Substances List and for which no treatment
            guidance or uniform testing levels are provided.
            Horsemen and
            PLEASE NOTE
            – All horses used in the administration studies exceeded 1,000 lbs.
            When dosing a horse smaller than 1,000 lbs, trainers and veterinarians may need to
            consider decreasing the total dose or increasing the time of dosing prior to racing.
            PHENYLBUTAZONE
            W
            ithdrawal time
            :
            2
            4 hours
            T
            hreshold
            :
            2 m
            cg/mL of plasma or serum
            Dos
            age
            :
            S
            ingle IV dose of phenylbutazone at 4.0 mg/kg
            PREDNISOLONE
            W
            ithdrawal time
            :
            4
            8 hours
            T
            hreshold
            :
            1 n
            g/mL serum or plasma
            Dos
            age
            :
            1 m
            g/kg orally
            PROCAINE PENICILLIN
            (administration must be reported to Stewards and horse must be submitted to
            6-hour pre-race surveillance)
            W
            ithdrawal time
            :
            M
            ay not be administered following entry into a race
            T
            hreshold
            :
            2
            5 ng/mL plasma or serum
            Dos
            age
            :
            Intramuscular
            TRIAMCINOLONE ACETONIDE
            W
            ithdrawal time
            :
            7 d
            ays
            T
            hreshold
            :
            1
            00 pg/mL of plasma or serum
            Dos
            age
            :
            T
            otal dose of 9mg in one articular space
            XYLAZINE
            W
            ithdrawal time
            :
            4
            8 hours
            T
            hreshold
            :
            0
            .01 ng/mg of plasma or serum
            Dos
            age
            :
            Intravenous
            5
            veterinarians are strongly cautioned to withdraw a horse from
            racing for a sufficient period of time after the administration
            of a medication not on the Controlled Therapeutic Substances
            list to ensure against a positive drug test
            . Substances that do
            not affect the organ systems of a horse such as antibiotics, anti-
            microbials, vaccines, etc. (except for procaine penicillin and
            levamisole) are not prohibited and are not the subject of testing.

    • Danny Gonzalez

      Before you go attacking the vets in this case i suggest you know the facts. The Horsemen were never notified of the removal of the threshold. In order to have known about the removal of the threshold you would have to been present and the particular meeting when they removed the threshold. The way the positives came about was the vets listed the treatments on the treatment sheets as there supposed to. The lab who had been previously found to have been not testing for the drugs was told by the executive director to find the drugs . Any normal change in a threshold level should have been posted on the overnights where all horsemen could read them. But since Maryland was trying to save face after finding out the lab wasnt testing for the drugs they had to do something to scare the horsemen. The lab was the same lab just found by the indiana racing commision to not be looking for drugs in there samples. My concern is if we know truesdail lab wasnt performing there test properly why is maryland still using them . I think there is more to this than meets the eye.

      • Happy Horse

        You raise a big concern with the competency of the lab. its clear they have their issues. It’s also puzzling that MD had these steroid cases and it appears basically nothing since

        • Danny Gonzalez

          Its time for a change in the maryland racing commision i am talking to state congressmen this week somethings going on there someone on the take or someone has a vested interest in that lab to keep it going

          • Happy Horse

            Wow a vested interest in the lab ? That would be HUGE news.

          • shiloh

            I had heard that rumor as well but still unable to track down the source.

  • Lynn

    In this article, Dr. Mary Scollay, DVM, Director of the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission states that there are legitimate uses of anabolic steroids, including compounded Stanozolol, for recovery from an injury, and “it is not in her agency’s interest to ban them entirely so they’re unavailable therapeutically.”

    Stanozolol available to help an injured horse heal? In Practice this can NOT happen because the Racing Medication and Testing Consortium (RMTC ) eliminated the threshold level for Stanozolol. In the “Model Rules” no amount of Stanozolol not even a Femtogram (fg) (0.000,000,000,000,001 grams) is allowed in a horse. A single treatment of Stanozolol even though the therapeutic benifits are gone in a mater of about a month, Stanozolol with today’s super sensitive tests likely can be found for a year or more.

    • Ben van den Brink

      In europe steroids are completely banned with hair testing you can find them easily even when administration took place a yr ago.

      It is too easy, cheating with the stuff hence the banning in GB. Holding the vet responsible as well, is the best way out.

      • Alex

        The point here is Dr. Scollay is quoted in the article that “anabolic steroids are beneficial in assisting horses recover from injuries and neither her or her agency prohibit the use of anabolic steroids including compounded Stanozolol so they are not available therapeutically. ”
        You could call this statement of Dr. Scollay the political correctness, in reality it’s an out right lie.
        Having a rule that a trace of Stanozolol, no matter how small constituents a positive is an all out ban on Stanozolol. Therefore Stanozolol can’t be used any time in racing horses.

  • We’re watching

    Name the trainers and name the vets.

    • Danny Gonzalez

      Maryland had the horse on the treatment sheets thats how they found them again we are being blinded by propaganda being spread by the commisions

  • FourCats

    I don’t get the witch hunt against vets. The vets job is to treat sick or injured animals; it’s not to determine a horse’s racing schedule. A vet can advise an owner or trainer of withdrawal times of drugs that are not allowed in a horse’s system at race time. And if the owner and/or trainer then decides not to use a specific drug for treatment, that’s their choice. But ultimately, it is the owner and/or trainer that decide whether or not to enter a horse into a race and when.

    Perhaps what is needed is a central group of veterinarians under the control of the racing commission who administer ALL medications to horses in training. Such a group would know what every horse was given, what the thresholds are and when that horse can race. And all horses coming back to racing after a layoff would be required to pass a blood test before being entered in any race. I personally believe that the vast majority of owners and trainers are not trying to cheat and would welcome such a system.

    • Lynn

      You can’t have it both ways.
      In the Article Dr. Mary Scollay The Ky Racing Commission Equine Medical Director, also on the American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP) safety committee, says that “there are legitimate uses of anabolic steroids, including compounded Stanozolol, in recovery from a specific injury, and it is not in her agency’s interest to ban them entirely so they’re unavailable therapeutically.”
      Dr. Scollay then goes on to pass and support the Model Rules where finding any amount of Stanozolol in a horse is a positive test no matter if the amount found was at residual or absolutely no effect level.

      • FourCats

        I read your comment several times. It may be true, but I don’t see how it is relevant to my comment. A vet’s job is to treat animals; if that animal can pass a drug test later is not really the vet’s concern. But the vet can and should give advice to the owner or trainer who is concerned with their animal passing a later drug test. If stanozolol is a legitimate treatment for a horse, the owner or trainer must decide whether to have the vet treat the horse with it knowing that such treatment will prevent it from racing in the future. Or is there some other way to treat the horse instead?

        • Lynn

          If you have rules where any amount of Stanozolol is considered a positive test. A positive test even when the amount found due to the super sensitive testing of today (Femtogram (fg) level), a level where all biological activity of Stanozolol has been gone for months if not a year; you simple can not use Stanozolol to help an injured horse heal.

  • Judith Van Doren

    Another side is the drug given at the race track by the track vet, which is not just horses at track to race, but horses based there under trainers control; vet should be held accountable in this situation. Another side is the vet at the training farm recommending drugs to horses not appropriate for race horses; vet knows whether horse is in training to race now or 3 months from now; vet knows because they ask at what stage the horses are in training when they treat horse for whatever. Yes, the owner or trainer should also be held accountable, but do not think vets should be given an automatic pass.

    • Alex

      Apparently in this case the Maryland Racing Commission remove the threshold for Stanozolol at one of their meetings but failed to give notice to the veterinarian’s, trainer’s, or owners. The only way to know that the threshold was removed was if you attended this particular commission meeting . Really shouldn’t the Maryland Racing Commission have informed all parties of the change in rules.

    • Ben van den Brink

      In the Netherlands we are having a weekly magazine and all changing in rules and regulations are published in that magazine.

      As an owner/ trainer etc you supposed to read and know the official publications.

      • Judith Van Doren

        I think operative word here is “supposed”. Sounds like a good rule about reading published requirements. It may happen at most race tracks, but not so sure. Vets are still the last one not to give a drug.

        • Ben van den Brink

          It,s the same with the law, you need to know the law.

          No one is able to respond in the way like: I have not read it, so the changes are not for me.

          • Judith Van Doren

            Understood. But what is going on is vet does not obey the law, and they do not think they will get caught. The track procedures do not always catch them. Vet still last one to “not give illegal drug”.

          • Ben van den Brink

            Than the vet has to make a written statement towards the owner/trainer with a warning. If used, and a propiete withdrawal time is not in use, the risks are solely for you.

        • Alex

          The veterinarian’s had Stanozolol listed on the treatment sheets as required by law. The Maryland Racing Commission failed to notify trainer’s, owner’s, or the veterinarian’s that they had removed the threshold for Stanozolol. The only way to know that the threshold for Stanozolol was removed was if you attended this particular commission meeting.

  • 33horses

    Half the vets just do what the trainers tell them to do. If they object, trainer just finds another vet more willing..

  • Racing Fan

    Vets who administer banned drugs should be indicted for race fixing by the federal govt. vActually that’s already happened in PA. Keep juicing vets…

  • nathan rotstein

    how about making the guys that pay the bills responsible. that ends it. period.
    no owners, no racing.

  • Happy Horse

    Here is a disturbing fact – the RMTC database of recent rulings doesn’t even include these well known cases. In fact it has only 2 cases for MD listed – one from 2013 and one from 2014. If the RMTC is about racing integrity, then they are falling way short on the transparency part of integrity. If this is a matter of the individual state(s) not forwarding their information , why not ? How is the RMTC funded ?

  • Shiloh

    That’s the way we roll in Maryland. We also give a “Good Guy” discount: if a trainer gets 2 positives a week or less apart – the second one is not counted. I sh$$t you not

    • Happy Horse

      You HAVE to be kidding . Please tell me you are kidding .

      • Shiloh

        not kidding

    • Lynn

      Is this because the post race tests samples are not sent off daily to the lab or the lab doesn’t process the samples in a timely fashion, or both? Either way the commission appears inept.

      • Shiloh

        The Maryland racing commission makes the call. At one time the lab reported directly to the stewards but that changed when a naproxen positive showed up on Maryland Million Day several years ago. The team of Maylin/Foreman got the sentence reversed and spearhead a rule change. The stewards make the ruling but not the decision

        • Happy Horse

          It would be interesting to know more – wasn’t the Maylin/Foreman relationship recently called into question on these pages ?

          • shiloh

            Yes, there was an interesting comment in an article about NY.

        • Lynn

          Alan Foreman popularly known as Snake Oil Merchant, never puts up a dime of investment in the industry; but has no problem getting his hand in multiple places to extract many dollars form the industry.

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