Louisiana Targets Blood-Doping,

The Louisiana State Racing Commission medication committee has asked the full commission to ban the use and possession of the blood-doping substances erythropoietin (EPO) and darbepoietin, as well as consider measures aimed at random pre-race testing for carbon dioxide caused by "milkshakes" (alkalizing agents).

In the statement released by the racing commission, the rules under consideration would prohibit from racing any horse whose blood tests positive for the presence of EPO antibodies until such time as the horse tests negative. Additionally, a considered amendment to the claiming rule would allow a successful claimant to void a claim on any horse testing positive for the presence of EPO antibodies. (Learn about EPO testing for its antibodies here.)

"The medication committee has been active the last several months on several issues," committee chairman Tom Grimstad, MD, said in a statement. "All of these issues pertain to the testing and identification of substances, intended to enhance animal performance that alters unfairly the results of racing in Louisiana.

"In addition, the medication committee emphasizes that every horse eligible to race in Louisiana will be subject to random testing, both on and off track, and pre-race evaluation to possibly include testing for elevated levels of total dissolved carbon dioxide."

In milkshaking, a tube filled with baking soda solution is inserted into a horse's nose, directing it into the animal's stomach. The presence of excess carbon dioxide in the horse's system is supposed to neutralize lactic acid, which is produced by intense exercise and is considered an important factor in causing fatigue.

The use and possession of EPO and darbepoietin if detected out of competition would incur penalties consistent with the recent classification of those substances as Class 1. The detection of the antibodies for the substances by a routine immunoassay test, however, would result in no sanction against the trainer or disqualification from a purse, but would instead trigger the ban from competition until a negative test result is obtained.

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