RCI report: Racing not plagued by illegal drugs

by | 09.08.2011 | 1:03pm

A report issued Thursday by the Association of Racing Commissioners International says claims that illegal drugs are rampant or widespread in horse racing just aren't true, based on the statistics.  The report, “Drugs in U.S. Racing 2010 – The Facts” provides an array of stats concerning drug testing results from 2010 and over a longer period of time.  The report asserts:

“Horse racing's anti-doping program tests for more substances at deeper levels than any other professional sport. These facts are inexplicably ignored by many who wish to opine on this matter and have been successful in drawing attention to their assertions by spinning negative headlines about the sport.”

“The perception created is not consistent with the facts.”

“In 2010, 324,215 biological samples were taken and tested.  Lab results show that 99.51% of those samples were found to contain no foreign or prohibited substance. In other words only less than one half of one percent of all samples tested was found to have contained a substance in violation of the rules.”

And the report says “only 47 of the over 320,000 samples tested in 2010 contained a Class 1 or Class 2 substance that could qualify for the term 'horse doping.'”


On the issue of anti-bleeding medications allowed on race day – the subject of so much discussion lately – RCI writes:

“The United States is one of several nations where the raceday use of the diuretic furosemide is permitted. This medication, used to reduce instances of exercise induced pulmonary hemorrhage (EIPH), is allowed under strict conditions requiring administration no less than four hours prior to the race. For the purpose of this report we handled violations of the furosemide rule separately as a trainer can be cited for not having the medication in his horse as well as for an overage. Furosemide violations should not be considered 'horse doping…'”

“…Since most horses race with furosemide it is a disservice to the sport to contend that one horse has an unfair advantage over another in a particular contest.”

“EIPH is the only equine condition that has warranted an exception to permit a prophylactic treatment on race day with medication. It is wrong to equate the use of this medication to paint a picture that racing is 'drug ridden.'”

The report concludes:

“The statistics in this report should not be interpreted to say that there are not challenges facing horse racing's drug testing program. New substances are developed each year and there are individuals willing to use them on a horse in an attempt to enhance performance or cheat.”

“Those who administer substances that would never be condoned by a licensed veterinarian must be caught and properly sanctioned. To do this investments in research and investigations are essential if racing's drug testing program is to remain as strong as it is today.”

Click here to read the entire report.

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