28 Days: Canadian Pari-Mutuel Agency Tightens Clenbuterol Restrictions

by | 04.06.2020 | 11:24am

The Canadian Pari-Mutuel Agency on April 3 updated its medication elimination guidelines to further restrict the use of clenbuterol, a bronchodilator designed to treat airway obstruction in horses but now called “the most abused drug in our industry” by trainer Mark Casse, perennially the leading trainer at Woodbine and a member of the Canadian Hall of Fame.

The regulatory agency responsible for setting medication policy in Canada increased the withdrawal guideline from seven days to 28 days for Ventipulmin, the brand name for clenbuterol. Clenbuterol was approved for use in Canada before the FDA green-lighted Ventipulmin syrup for horses in the United States in 1998. It is considered a very effective treatment for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease but believed to be abused by some for its anabolic steroidal, muscle-building effects  – particularly since racing regulators moved to restrict the use of steroids for horses in training more than a decade ago.

The recommended withdrawal time falls two days short of the California Horse Racing Board's 30-day withdrawal time – the strictest in North America. The latter regulatory board spells out specific guidelines for clenbuterol's use, including the requirement of a diagnosis for any horse to be prescribed the drug, placement of the horse on the vet's list and an official test sample after a workout showing no level of the drug in blood or urine. Horses tested out of competition by the CHRB that are positive for clenbuterol are put on the vet's list as well.

The new Canadian withdrawal time for clenbuterol is double the model rule of 14 days recommended by the Association of Racing Commissioners International. It is due to go into effect May 1 for Canadian racing. Woodbine has postponed its April 18 opening of the 2020 season because of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

News of Canada's new regulation was announced on Saturday in a Tweet by Jim Lawson, CEO of Woodbine Entertainment.

Casse, who has been an outspoken critic of the drug, calling for its elimination in a Thoroughbred Daily News commentary,  responded to the news.

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