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Monday, June 09, 2008


- Here's one knowledgeable person who feels that the current discussion over steroids in horse racing is overblown (hat tip to the excellent harness racing blog Pull the Pocket):

Mike Weber, manager of veterinary services for the Canadian Pari-Mutuel Agency, which regulates and supervises pari-mutuel betting on horse- racing, insists steroid use by horses wouldn't cause them to collapse and die and doesn't have a significant effect on them.

Yet he admits that if the drugs are overused, there are side effects. The reproductive performance of mares and fillies can be affected. But that, he said, can be reversed once the drugs are stopped.

"We're concerned, in racing, [with] the effect on performance," he said, adding that anabolic steroids have become "high-profile" in recent years following a spike in the number of cases in sports such as baseball.

But he maintains the fuss is overblown, arguing that steroids - which occur naturally in some horses (mainly stallions ) - don't appear to have the same effect on them as on human athletes. He said rather than boosting performance, steroids help racehorses recover their strength after injuries, stress or surgery.

"There's been a lot of concern about anabolic steroids in other sports. They've come to the fore and people are concerned horses are receiving anabolics, so pressure's being put on to do something about it," Weber said.

"It's not a fair comparison. Scientific studies have shown they are not a performance enhancer [for horses]. In my opinion, it's not as big a problem in horses as it is in humans." [Vancouver Sun]
But even if you accept this man's view, I suppose one could then argue that Big Brown's missed steroids shot could have affected him in terms of recovering from any stress or strength caused by his quarter crack injury.

And wow, the 3yo pacer Somebeachsomewhere remained unbeaten with a spectacular 1:49 mile in the eliminations of the Pepsi North American Cup at Mohawk Raceway in Ontario, coasting home under wraps. Check out the replay at the preceding link. What's really scary is that this colt is suffering from a stone bruise on one of his feet, and is said by his trainer to be "around 80% right now." Yikes.


Anonymous said...

This fellow is an advocate of the vets so there is no surprise what his position reflects.

Superfecta said...

I don't think anyone would try to argue that the drug problem is not considerably worse in American harness racing (given that a few barns employ pharmacists almost openly to beat the tests as they are developed - this kept a lot of people busy at my former place of employment) compared to TB racing, so perhaps it is not surprising that those that are already legal are not considered much of an issue.