Controversy in Florida Over Clenbuterol Positives

by | 06.11.2013 | 1:07pm
Ventipulmin Syrup (Clenbuterol)

The Florida Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association is at war with the state's regulatory body, the Division of Pari-Mutuel Wagering, over what FHBPA executive director Kent Stirling said are more than 125 positive tests for clenbuterol.  Clenbuterol is a bronchodilator originally used to treat respiratory problems that became a commonly administered drug for horses in training.

At issue is exactly when the drug needs to be withdrawn from horses scheduled to race.

“It had been a five-day withdrawal time forever,” said Stirling. “But then they came up with a flock of positives at the end of the year, a majority at Tampa Bay Downs, some at Gulfstream, a few at Hialeah and a couple at the harness track.”

Stirling said he asked the testing lab at the University of Florida and the DPMW if the withdrawal time had changed.

“Rather than put it in writing, they called me and said not to worry, there would be a ‘happy resolution,'” Stirling said. “Well, our positives are upwards of 125, maybe more. They are calling them below 25 picograms, which had been the standard for much of the country. The lab started calling things they've never called before, even in the single digits. Apparently, the Division has a zero-tolerance policy now, meaning there is no withdrawal time. I am very unhappy with the Division and we are not going to roll over dead on this one.”

Stirling said he's telling trainers to allow at least 14 days withdrawal time, but that might not be safe under zero tolerance and the variance in testing results between blood and urine.

Among the trainers charged with multiple violations is Kirk Ziadie, who had five horses racing at Calder test positive for clenbuterol between July 4 and Sept. 27, 2012. A sixth horse racing at Gulfstream Park tested positive for the drug March 13, 2013.

Ziadie was banned from Calder by track management from August 2009 until September 2011 after numerous medication violations and not paying his bills to vendors. He is Calder's leading trainer with 26 wins from 55 starts during the current meeting, a strike rate of 47%. All but one of the Ziadie horses testing positive for clenbuterol are owned by Frank Calabrese.

On Feb. 26 of this year, Joseph Helton, chief attorney for the Division of Pari-Mutuel Wagering, filed an amended complaint against Ziadie, listing six 2012 positive tests (including one Butazolidin overage) and recounting 14 previous Florida medication violations on Ziadie's record. Helton is calling for an administrative hearing that could lead to stiff fines, purse redistributions, suspensions or even a license revocation of the trainer, pursuant to Section 550.1155 of Florida statute.

No hearing date has been set as both sides are going through the discovery process.

Attorney Bradford Beilly, who is handling Ziadie's case, says the trainer is being singled out and that all of the clenbuterol positives are at levels less than 25 picograms.

“The state, for whatever reason, has decided it's time to take away Kirk Ziadie's license,” Beilly said, “even though the positives are less than any recognized threshold amounts and they are for therapeutic medications.

“As a general proposition, I've never seen a situation where the state has attempted to use a series of Class 3 violations to revoke somebody's license.”

A spokesman for the Division would not comment on the case.

The complaint against Ziadie comes at a time when the Racing Medication and Testing Consortium has approved a “points system” that, similar to the points accrued on a driver's license for moving violations, would incur heavier suspensions for multiple violators. Such a system would discourage trainers who currently may look at fines for overages of Class 3 and 4 drugs as the “cost of doing business.”

However, for the so-called Multiple Violation Penalty (MVP) system to work, it will have to be adopted in all states, and guidelines for withdrawal times on drugs like clenbuterol will have to be uniform. For more on the MVP system, click here.

  • Richard C

    Ryan Braun couldn’t make up such technicality excuses.

  • Don Reed

    All bets are off.

    The results from the above tests and the lab tests from the Epstein-Barr virus (contracted from patients who voluntarily opted for silicone breast implants that, installed, leaked) have been mixed up.

  • Ben van den Brink

    Time to clean up racing, zero clenbuterol level would be about three weeks off, before an race.

    • Ben van den Brink


      Ventipulmin™ Syrup

      (25 micrograms/ml) Boehringer Ingelheim

      µg/kg/day for 10 days


      312 hours

  • Nucky Thompson

    I’m shocked… shocked to find that doping is going on in there.

  • Jessie Baker

    New Mexico is zero tolerance on clem for a reason maybe it’s time to adopt those rules it’s only needed for 10 days to clear the lungs after that they are using it for it’s anabolic side effect

  • jttf

    positives follow calabreese throughout the country. you need to stop him from racing. chicago only lets him run his horses if they are also under mike reavis’s name.

  • Jessie Baker

    They can pick up any amount they want zero tolerance should mean zero

  • JT

    Calabrese/Zadie are shady.., the whole racing world knows it..,

  • Oscetra

    SO what’s new? Clenbuteral is like water in Florida. The 2-y-o’s are loaded up on it starting on their arrival for preparation for the sales. I would love to see surprise “out of competition” testing on most of those outfits! It has a side affect of bulking them up and is used as a substitute for steroids. Many are started on it as weanlings. Just track receipts from the people that sell it (vets). Once again, veterinary accountability – not going to happen!

    • Jennifer

      And who is winning this battle. “The drug companys” They love it when the horseman fight this battle for them. How much money were they making when we could use steroids. Now how much money is the drug co. making with clenbuterol. We all know it builds body mass? Stop making the drug companys rich and think outside the box. Why has society become so dependant on drugs?

  • Stanley inman

    Hey Kent
    Here’s a song to raise your spirits…
    Dope dope dope your horse
    Gently down she goes
    Merrily, merrily merrily merrily
    Life is but a

  • betterthannothing

    “Ziadie… is Calder’s leading trainer with 26 wins from 55
    starts during the current meeting, a strike rate of 47%. All but one of
    the Ziadie horses testing positive for clenbuterol are owned by Frank


    Cat-Cal then, now Zia-Cal. Calabrese sure knows where to find matching trainers who know where to find matching tracks. The more things change the more they stay the same as long as Calabrese, Ziadie and their ilk are allowed to poison racing. Meanwhile, racing hopes to look cool enough to charm the public!

  • G. Rarick

    And in all the complaining about withdrawal times and overages, not one person seems to want to ask the question as why all those horses are on it in the first place. Perfect portrait of the decline of American racing.

    • Lexington 3

      Good thing you got out when you did.

      You must be smarter than the rest of us.

    • salthebarber


    • Roisin

      You are exactly right. It just goes to show how accepted drugging horses has become and how the once unacceptable becomes the norm. It is a bad situation for racing not to mention those that make it possible, the horses !!

    • Old Timer

      Hahaha you think racing was clean back in the “good ole days”!?

      You’re drinking your own bath water if you do! Sorry but I know of to many great and wonderful trainers that used everything under the sun to get these horses to run early and often. Do any of you posters ever think that maybe these war horses of times gone by who started 2 or 3 times a WEEK had anything in there systems, or was it because they simply had excellent horse trainers? Maybe the average start per horse has dropped in line with the advance of testing, but no that couldn’t be! It has to be these lousy horsemen not being as good as the guy’s before them. Throw out all the advances in medicine, and diagnostics they don’t mean a single thing. Stem cell research, an absolute sham, why, well because horses are not starting as often or as many times, right? So whats the point of science being in this game, if all the greats who had absolutely NO KNOWLEDGE about it what so ever, did it better.

      No ones asking why they are on clen, because we all know why. Only you posters on the outside don’t know. All the other options are out, fine, clen is now used to try and find what ever edge there is available. If the regulators don’t won’t it, ok then,tell before drop the level they have been working at for years is changed to simply play a game of “gotcha”!

      All these “holier than thou” posters are incredibly out of you league. If you can’t handle truth move along to another sport to bash. I hear football is having some issues, please go dump on them instead.

  • SteveG

    A commonality among the serial offenders is how they all feel persecuted, singled out, set up…portray themselves as victims. It’s nauseating.

  • McGov

    Very dangerous drug when abused.

    Too many barns use Clen as part of their “program”…all horses get it, respiratory problem or not. The use of the drug is a joke…everyone knows it…no “therapeutic” objective 90% of the time.

    Just one of many problems in the game that must be dealt with head on.

    • betterthannothing

      Very true. Clenbuterol works as a stimulant, fat-burner, non-steroidal anabolic and broncho dilating dope until horses drop dead.

      The culture has degraded to the point where wrong is right and abuse and drugs are excellent for business. One only has to look at the deplorable treatment of two year olds at breeze sales to realize how low the business has fallen.

      • McGov

        Clen has been widely used by Hollywood types and body builders for its anabolic properties….quick results in 3 weeks…weight loss or muscle definition etc.
        It can give you a human a heart attack and kill you if you exceed 3 cc…great risk. Every time I hear about a horse dropping dead from a heart attack my first thought is too much Clen. However, I’m a cynic by nature.
        But there is no doubt that this drug is widely abused.

    • Kris

      Jack Van Berg mentioned being in the hospital for a medical procedure and being given Clenbuterol ( in a TVG interview), he said that he thought his heart was going to explode out of his chest. Needless to say, JVB vowed to never give his horses Clenbuterol.

  • Andy

    Look, the sport is never going to clean itself up until all the muckety-mucks (track execs, horsemen, breeders, regulators) believe that the racing public will not stand for it one minute longer. Horseplayers must unite in a show of unity — boycott the tracks completely, say, one Friday a month — or nothing will change. But players have shown themselves incapable of uniting on their cause. Take a cue from the success of the labor unions in the 30s-60s. If players are not willing to sacrifice a little for long-run gains they almost (ALMOST) deserve what they get. .

    • brussellky

      I disagree about it hurting the players. There were MANY more inexplicable results and form reversals in New York when Lasix was not allowed prior to the early 90’s. There are legitimate reasons to crack down but helping the players is not one of them.

  • Jay Stone

    As a memeber of Frank Calabrese’s racing team I find it incumbent upon me to answer some of the issues brought up in this article. Firstly the anonomous critics mostly have no idea what they are talking about which is why the hide in anonymity. Mr. Calabrese currently has horses with many different trainers in Chicago and has been invited back by alll the management team. The reason he races in South Florida is because he now calls it home. His horses are aggressively placed and receive the best care that money can buy which accounts for a high win percentage. He has done this for many years. No expeneses are spared to make them competitive and they are given plenty of time between starts. If need be they go to a farm to recuperate. The racing game sorely needs more owners like this man. Sa far as Mr Ziadie is concerned he is an exceptional horseman who I have known for many years. His horses always look well taken care of in the paddock and race to their looks. I don’t know of any positives he has had for PEDs. Once againhis horses are well taken care of and receive plenty of time between starts.

    • circusticket

      “the best care that money can buy” is like saying we have the best democracy money can buy. Both true but not a good thing.

    • jttf

      ziadie is very talented at getting positives. he is a very positive trainer. getting thrown out for 2 years for having 13 positives isnt a good sign. remember calabrese and canani hooking up on 6 positives in chicago. 6 horses had etodulac and four of them won and the other two ran 2nd. didnt canani train for michael gill before this happened ? then calabrese gets spanked and runs off to florida. jay, you are surrounded by some outstanding people who aggressive place their horses on meds. calabrese use to be sole owner of his horses in chicago. what happened ? why does he need to be babysitted with another owner/trainer ? we all why.

  • William Koester

    The withdrawal time for clenbuterol has been established by the Racing Medication Testing Consortium and Racing Commission International for months. For someone representing Florida horseman to say it’s always been 5 days is laughable.

  • not important

    You are crazy to keep on going after Kirk Ziadie. His horses are cared for exceptionally well. If any of you were to spend a day or two in his barn or watching his horses train, you would be definately amazed. He may have had possitives for clembuteral, (as so have many other trainers which you choose not mention), but let me ask u these questions…. Has Ziadie ever had a horse brake down in a race? Has ziadie ever had a vet scratch at time of race? Has Ziaide ever had possitive tests for class 2 or class 1 drugs??? Answers … NO TO ALL ABOVE QUESTIONS…!!!!! Dont u think you should be more concerned about those trainers that in my mind clearly are abusing horses…

  • Jay Stone

    Would u argue as a patient that of u were sick you wouldn’t want the best health care money can buy?

  • R. Price

    I look on the front page and see articles of horses dropping dead at an alarming rate . Then I read a controversy on how much clen is ok to have in the horses system. If below 25 pictograms is the standard throughout the country then why a shock when they are testing positive in a “zero- tolerance ” structure? In reading further I see the articles focus turns to Kirk Ziadie. Of the 125 test spoken about earlier this article ,it only reveals 6 positives for Kirk in 2012. What about the other trainers and owners ? Success always breeds hate ! I have been around Kirks barns enough to know that his horses are very well taken care of and are treated with the best available amenities. When horses are not up to racing health they are on the farm receiving the best treatment available and returned when the horse has received ample treatment. Maybe some facts were left out of the article but it looks like a standard witch hunt . Seems somewhat crazy to bash a trainer and owner when in your own article it states he is “among the trainers charged with multiple violations”. Who are the others and what owners are enjoying the “winning” treatments! Constant dirt in the eye can sometimes cause political wrangling to take place!

  • Jay Stone

    The partnerships with Reavis are because of a longstanding friendship. Other horses run there are independently owned and I really don’t think he has to be babysitted by anyone as his record as an owner over time speaks for itself.

  • Keith Harris

    this is hilarious, its been a 5 day withdrawal time in florida forever, and if you dont think so, then you have no clue what your talking about, ive seen how Ziadie and Calabrese run their programs and they are exceptional horse people. i love how anonymous cowards will sit here and bad mouth people and a situation they have no clue about, quit crying because your not winning, of you think horse racing is the only sport in which the athletes receive medications, you are severely mistaken, clenbuterol is used to clear up lung problems and also for the fat burning and muscle toning that you speak of, so what, it is not illegal and is no different then a body builder using hydroxy cut or any other bronchodialator, and for anyone who thinks “in the old days” they didnt try anything they could to get an advantage, your a moron, so for all you haters, keep hating, cause while your sitting back whining and crying over what this and that guy are doing, real horseman are making to the winners circle while the anonymous imposters sit there with their hands in their empty pockets going out of business saying “poor me”, most of you dont have a clue what it takes to win races, for if you did, you wouldnt be worried about what the other trainers are doing and more worried about the care and treatment of your own horses, Calabrese and Ziadie give their horses the best of everything, while your horses are lucky to get feed and bedding, my name is Keith Harris, and if you have a problem with what i say, tough, its the truth, champions do what it takes to win, and believe me, watching your horse go around a track is not considered being a trainer, coming up with ways to get horses right and getting your picture taken with your hand on that animals hip is!!!!

    • Jay Stone

      Keith, what u say is correct. Mr calabrese spends a lot of money to maintain these animals. The aggressive placement coupled with a well maintained horse will usually spell success. Unfortunately with success comes jealously which brings on added scrutiny.

  • Keith Harris

    btw, go get em Kirk, screw these idiots!!!

  • Ted

    Kirk has not only trained horses horses for me in the past but is also a close personal friend. I have spent many mornings in his barn and have seen the exceptional care that his horses receive. I have raced in Kentucky, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania as well as FL in the past 3 years, dealt with trainers in each location and none can hold a candle to Kirk. All trainers are using Clenbuterol, it is no secret in the industry. You are singling out Kirk because he wins at such a high percentage. Kirk uses the best feed, the best vet care, the best exercise riders, best jockeys that are available and as Jay Stone noted below has an owner that allows him to aggressively place his horses, that is why he wins races at 47 percent. Instead of singling out Kirk we should blame the horse industry for not coming up with a standard set of medication rules. If Clen is harmful to horses then it should be banned completely, or set specific guidelines for its use. I do not know Mr. Calabrese personally but I can tell you as a small horse owner I admire his record and his commitment to the thoroughbred industry. Without men like him their would be no racing.

    On a seperate note, in all fairness you should publish the other trainers violations rather than just pointing out Kirk.

  • Brian

    Mr Paulick this is an extremely weak article. If Kirk Ziadie presumably had 6 positives out of 125 positive tests this is less than 5% of the problem. Where are the other 95% of the positives and why where no other trainers listed?? For someone with your experience it appears you are targeting Kirk. I know Kirk personally and have visited his barn. He is a consummate professional and devoted to the industry. I challenge you to post the names of all of the other trainers and the number of positives they have had. What are you hiding?

  • Jay Stone

    The last comment on this subject should the necessity of universal medication and rules that go from state to state. If any trainer receives a penalty for drug a uses eventually this will stop and good horsemanship as well as correct placement will rule

  • TBD 4 Life

    Does Reid Nagle know this?

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