Author Topic: Racing's dirty secret: Are horses doped to the eyeballs? 11.11.2012  (Read 560 times)

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Racing's dirty secret: Are horses doped to the eyeballs? 11.11.2012
« Reply #1 on: November 11, 2012, 11:29:06 AM »
Racing's dirty secret: New drug scandal to hit tracks       
  •   Andrew Rule 
  •   Sunday Herald Sun 
  • November 11, 2012
      Horse thumbnail height=366   Some of the biggest names in racing say sophisticated drug cheating has become rife among well-known stables.
AUSTRALIAN racing faces a drug-cheating scandal to rival the Lance Armstrong revelations that have rocked world cycling.

Several of the nation's top stables are using the same illicit performance-boosting drug that has riddled bike racing since the 1990s, according to angry trainers and veterinarians.

Some of the biggest names in racing have told the Herald Sun sophisticated drug cheating has become rife among well-known stables.

Respected trainers and veterinarians have confirmed the allegations are valid, citing several examples in both horse racing codes over many years.

They believe the practice of "milk-shaking" with sodium bicarbonate is being combined with use of undetectable variants of the notorious oxygen-boosting hormone used by Armstrong and dozens of other cyclists since the 1990s.

Special report: Racing's dark underbelly

Editorial: It's time to stamp out drug cheating

The drug is erythropoietin - known as EPO and dubbed "Edgar Allan Poe" in cycling circles.

The substance is difficult to detect and almost identical variants leave a slightly different molecular "fingerprint" undetected by current drug tests.

But EPO-type synthetic hormones are not the only illicit "go-fast" drugs in use, according to well-placed sources.

Some trainers were using variants of the opiate-based stimulants such as "elephant juice", which became notorious when the distressed Rocket Racer collapsed and almost died after literally bolting ahead of the field in the 1987 Perth Cup.

A top trainer contacted the Herald Sun earlier this year about the alleged use of a particular opiate derivative that stewards detected in several horses at a winning stable.

He is one of several trainers who claim some stables have an "edge" that produces amazing winning strike rates that are statistically and historically improbable.

The trainers and veterinarians have broken their silence on condition of anonymity not just because of fears for personal safety, but because they fear being targeted by embarrassed officials for creating bad publicity for an industry already plagued with corruption issues.

"Talking about it in public will only take you to two places - the cemetery or the hate list," one central Victorian trainer told the Herald Sun.

In this racing season alone:

jockey Danny Nikolic has been suspended for two years for threatening chief steward Terry Bailey.

rider Damien Oliver is reportedly considering early retirement to avoid a public inquiry into what he calls "damaging" but undenied allegations he bet heavily against a horse he was riding in 2010.

Bookmakers' Association president Lynton Hsu revealed two weeks ago that bookies could not take the risk of accepting bets from certain punters linked to particular stables.

spring chances Rekindled Interest and Howmuchdoyaloveme failed on the track after stewards confiscated suspect equipment that can be used illicitly to "tube" horses on race day.

Racing Victoria yesterday denied EPO was rife in the industry.

"Racing Victoria refutes the assertion that EPO use is widespread in Victorian thoroughbred racing. We have a robust and active testing regime in place for both EPO and opiate-based stimulants and there is no evidence to indicate the systematic use of either within the state of Victoria," Racing Victoria's general manager of integrity, Dayle Brown, said.

Harness Racing Victoria's chief operating officer Brant Dunshea said his organisation had been testing for EPO in and out of competition since 2009.

Mr Dunshea said there had been no evidence of its use since then.

He said HRV's racing and analytical services laboratory had been the first to develop a "confirmatory" test for EPO.

"We believe we've sent the right message in terms of deterring its use," Mr Dunshea said.

* Erythropoietin, or EPO, is a hormone produced by the kidneys.

* The hormone can be manufactured and injected directly into the bloodstream to boost red blood cell production

* Red blood cells carry oxygen to the muscles and help delay fatigue.

* Athletes take EPO to gain a competitive edge.
« Last Edit: November 11, 2012, 11:30:40 AM by WA Export News »