Scientists: Variability in Clenbuterol Makes Regulation Tough

by | 07.14.2013 | 10:15am
Ventipulmin Syrup (Clenbuterol)

Scientific advisors discussed concerns about clenbuterol regulation at the most recent National Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association convention. The challenge, they said, besides the difference in withdrawal times between states, is that horses metabolize the drug at drastically different rates, with traces detectable at 14 days in some individuals, and as much as 30 days in others. In still other horses, the drug is undetectable after three days post-administration.

Clenbuterol is used as a bronchodilator for horses with respiratory infections. Further, Dr. Steven Barker, chemist for the Louisiana State Racing Commission, is skeptical of the Racing Medication Testing Consortium proposed 14-day cutoff for administration. He's even more skeptical that the group won't release its documents backing the scientific basis for the withdrawal time without a non-disclosure agreement.

“Good scientists would not want to keep good information secret,” Barker told Blood-Horse. “It's not a scientific document, it's a political document–that's shocking.”

Others say that there may be spikes in the amount of the drug in horses' systems at ten days; still others say the affects of the drug is more pronounced in Quarter Horses than Thoroughbreds at large doses.

Read more at Blood-Horse

  • Stanley inman

    Do not believe clenbuteral is used
    for respiratory infections
    Every horsemen knows better
    “Doc, what should I do after his race?”
    “put him back on it”

    • Stanley inman

      Was this conference about science or politics
      Like getting an objective view of race
      From the KKK

      • Mr. Moo

        I wonder if the variability has anything to do with how long the horse has been on it ? probably no way to know that. i dont know of any trainer that documents every “little thing” that goes into the morning feed. i know first hand of trainers that use it daily starting from day 1
        it’s 650 a gallon in some areas for the compounded version known as “Red Bull” in somplaces. interesingly enough compounded by a lab in newmexico. those costs role up into “overhead” expeses like hay,grain,bedding,raps,buckets and the like and are not shown on billing

  • perks

    If they got rid of it in racing, they wouldnt have to worry about any differences. Problem solved and we would move a ittle more toward fair racing..
    Far as the comment on cost clenbuterol and the training bill, they normally put it on the bill as ulcer medication. Ive also seen it cause ulcers in horses that never had them before they got on the clenbuterol.
    I love it when I get a horse home from the track, all bulked up and then they look like dog crap a month after they get off this stuff, then its at least 8 months till they look good again.
    No telling what this stuff does to them long term, but sure makes it hard to sell them when they look so rough. We would all be better off without it all the way around.

    • Mr. Moo

      I am certan there is variation on how it’s billed sim to the all encompasiing “pre race treatment” seen by many… or all of it pooled as “suplements” for day to day stuff.

      and yes it all needs to end, with the new quantifying testing it’s no longer a usable masking agent. the days of the “cloudy” test and 50 dollar pat on the head i hope soon come to an end.
      100 percent agree with your gateway statment, and the “Crash” during “detox” (it is detox) is often quite severe and even startiling at times.

      • Guest

        BINGO Moo!! The owner pays for it one way or another. “Ulcer medication,” especially “Supplements.” How many owners break that bill down? Or better yet, how badly do they want to WIN, and not be embarrassed at their private box full of important people? What about those same horses that got the good stuff and ran up the track? What about the small trainers whose owners can’t afford the good stuff?

      • betterthannothing

        Of course, all medications given to horses from birth or at least as soon as they start training should be verified and recorded and horses should be protected including with surveillance cameras, wherever they are. Such database would make it easier to pinpoint which drugs cause most suffering although transparency would prevent drug abuse.

        The industry should care enough about the health and safety of its horses to create an authority solely to protect them. As long as drugs are permitted to train and race horses and security is not tight enough that abuse still goes on, horsemen who see horses suffering including during detox would be able to report it to such authority.

  • Richard C

    A gateway drug by any other name…is still a gateway drug.

  • Jay Stone

    It seems to me that all this report is saying is that since the scientists won’t make their work public then every defense attorney who represents a trainer with a positive should go to court where it will be thrown out. It would seem this shows no withdrawal time is safe depending on the horses’s metabolism.

    • Old Timer

      Spot on Jay! If I was still training and had a bad test for clem, I would just fight till I got to court and put the commission on the stand and ask how they came to the thresehold level that they did. When the state vet said, “Well trust us we know, and I can’t tell you how.”, then it would be game, set, match. Owner and Trainer win. No judge is going to listen to that kind of dribble from a state agency. A judge will want to hear facts, not “trust me”.

      • betterthannothing

        How about your substituting dope and drugs with horsemanship and patience? (As a doping agent, Clenbuterol is banned from all European sports)

        • Old Timer

          How about you actually discuss what you mean by “horsemanship”? Using a word that you don’t actually know what the definition is, doesn’t make you intelligent and the expert in this or any issue. Patience for what? If one of my charges has an errant lung issue that won’t go away, your suggestion is I should put the horse out to pasture for months on end, without necessarily fixing the problem? I’m not sure what you mean.

          Doping may be a problem that needs to be dealt with, but using the drug properly in a controlled therapeutic manner isn’t a lack of “horsemanship” or patience. As a matter of fact, treating your horse with the most state-of-the-art treatments, whether be it drugs, changing the horses environment, rearranging a part of a training program, or combination of all three, is the best “husbandry” my animal should be receiving
          Regarding my comments above that you replied to, and my definition of “husbandry/horsemanship” is where I come from.

          Again if I’m using proper “husbandry/horsemanship” and I get nailed by the state, I’m going to fight it till the bitter end, because I know what I did was in that animals best interest at the time, and I had science and evidence to back me up. Not simply the states “trust me, because I know”.

          An old racetrack expression that many good horsemen still use today is “Take care of your horse, and he will take care of you.”

          • betterthannothing

            OldTimer, IMO, sound horsemanship always put the welfare, safety and lives of horses and riders before money and ego. Listen to what horses tell you and when you don’t like to “hear” it, don’t silence them with drugs. Use medication in moderation for therapeutic purpose only, never to enhance performance, hide immaturity, depression, exhaustion, disease or injury in order to maximize exploitation or dump spent, sick or injured horses quicker. With the state of moral decay American racing is in, owners and trainers should be offered strong incentives to only train and race sound and healthy horses that don’t need drugs to perform with a few exceptions initially.

  • Tinky

    HOT OFF THE PRESS (7/15):

    (Reuters) – Former double world sprint champion Tyson Gay delivered a further body blow to his troubled sport on Sunday when he pulled out of next month’s Moscow world championships after failing an out-of-competition dope test.

    Tyson has run the fastest three 100 meters of the year and his clash with Jamaica’s Olympic 100 and 200 champion Usain Bolt would have been the highlight of the championships.

    Instead he has withdrawn from Friday’s Diamond League meeting in Monaco and the world championships on the worst day of a bad week for the central sport of the Olympic Games.


    NOTE: Out of competition testing is the only way to stop cutting-edge cheating, whether human or equine.

  • louisbille

    I was shocked to realize many of these ‘withdrawal times’ tests only use a single injection, not repeated ones over time. A way to save money and time I suppose, but guaranteed to give you inaccurate results. How many horses get a single dose of Clen, ever?

    And somehow Graham Motion figures it out – never a violation, the only US based trainer who can make that claim. Yet he gives Lasix to his unraced 2yo, go figure.

  • SusanKayne

    Dr. James C. Hunt, Jr prescribed 1910 cc of Clenbuterol to my horse Bourbon Bandit in a four-month period. The horse scoped clean after workouts [and before the medication was prescribed]. During that time the horse was entered to race at Belmont four times and eventually broke down on November 5, 2011 at Aqueduct. I did not authorize or OK the meds…the math doesn’t add up within any legal dosage or manufacturers recommendations. The NY Gaming Commission, or, Dr. Hunt [in my experience as referenced above] doesn’t give a thought or care to the rampant drug abuse to horses at NYRA tracks.

  • Ben van den Brink

    Just an hundred percent zero, solves all the problems. About zero is appealing useless, this saves a lot of money. No hustle about dates. No hiding under the rug from an carpet

  • Jay Stone

    Once again the idea of one set of rules that govern medication in all racing states come into play. The problem is most states do not want to cede power to one national authority. Most horsemen are afraid to ship to other states because of fear of different medication rules. The individual state commissions are comprised too often of political appointees lacking knowledge. Despite it being another level of bureaucracy a national group needs to consolidate everything. Among the participants should be vets, horsemen, legal experts, and law enforcement with clout. Maybe typical of that group would be retired FBI or DEA.

  • neicey22

    I was a fan of racing, now I’m not! Remove all drugs and I’ll come back. The use of drugs is destroying racing and rightly so!

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