Anabolic Steroids Still an Issue in U.S. Horse Racing

A number of samples from Thoroughbred racehorses recently came back positive for anabolic steroids.
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Through the first 10 months of 2014, U.S. horse racing appeared on pace to register its fewest positive drug tests for anabolic steroids since the industry moved to outlaw the drugs from racing in 2008-09. But six positives for the anabolic steroid stanozolol from Nov. 19 to Dec. 19 at Laurel Park, in Maryland, ended all that.

While some Laurel horsemen suggested failure to adjust to Maryland’s new medication policies tripped them up, an examination of race records provides evidence that horses received stanozolol while in training.

It’s important to note that when U.S. racing put its anabolic steroid policy in place, it opted not to go with a complete ban as trainers and veterinarians made their case that anabolic steroids are useful in energizing horses and restoring their appetite when they return from illness or injury. Regulators aimed to keep anabolic steroids out of racing when they recommended withdrawal times of 30 days for stanozolol (formerly sold as Winstrol), boldenone (Equipoise), testosterone, and nandrolone.

Based only on the number of positives reported each year to the Association of Racing Commissioners International (RCI), racing appeared to be making progress in eliminating anabolic steroids in racing. A Blood-Horse study of the RCI database found 16 positives for anabolic steroids in 2010 but that number had dwindled to just four for the first 10 months of 2014

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Frank Angst is a staff writer for The Blood-Horse magazine. An American Horse Publications three-time winner in best news story category, Angst has covered horse racing for more than a decade. Angst spent ten years at Thoroughbred Times, where he earned awards as that magazine’s senior writer and helped launch Thoroughbred Times TODAY. Besides covering horse racing, Angst enjoys handicapping. Angst has written about sports for more than 20 years, including several seasons covering a nationally ranked Marshall Thundering Herd football team.

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