Australian racing officials launch drug crackdown

Australian racing officials launch drug crackdown

Australian racing authorities are beginning a crackdown on a drug that can mimic the impact of anabolic steroids and has often caused a black eye in American racing.

Clenbuterol is a product that can make breathing easier for horses with respiratory diseases by relaxing the muscles in the lungs and widening the airways.

However, it is reported to be widely abused in the US as, when regularly administered to horses, clenbuterol can produce a significant anabolic (muscle building) effect.


Australian racing is to enforce a new threshold screening limit of permitted clenbuterol of 0.1ng/ml in urine from April 1.

Integrity officials say it’s the latest step to crack down on the potential for drug fraud in all three codes.

“Due to the drug’s side effects, competitors who administer high doses of clenbuterol may gain an unfair advantage when racing,” Queensland Racing Integrity Commission boss Shane Gillard said.

“The reduced screening limit was introduced to deter the misuse of registered products to take advantage of the anabolic steroid side effect, but will have a marginal impact on those using these preparations in accordance with the manufacturer’s treatment guidelines.

“I encourage all participants across thoroughbreds and race codes to ensure their treatment protocols are in line with the new screening limit as those who do not comply will be penalised.”

Past clenbuterol testing is not based on a Racing Australia approved clenbuterol screening limit.

Testing is based on the detection time in urine of 3-4 days after oral administration, as determined in Equine Veterinarians Australia’s publication Detection of Therapeutic Substances in Racing Horses.

Racing laboratories used individual methodology approved by the National Association of Testing Authorities (NATA) to adhere to this detection time.

While the previous methodology only targeted the higher concentrations of the drug, this has changed below the new screening limit, and thus the detection time will increase to 13 days in urine for the oral administration of the drug.

In 2021, reported that California regulatory authorities had found a significant number of clenbuterol findings in out-of-competition and post-race test samples in recent years.

“Based on their analysis, the results appear to be inconsistent with the therapeutic administration of clenbuterol, but rather more associated with a training management regimen,” wrote

“Surprisingly, the sport allows a widely abused performance-enhancing drug to continue to be recognized as a therapeutic agent.”

Originally published as New screening limit for equine drugs that may produce anabolic effect

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