LSU Equine Drug Testing Lab Receives Racehorse Contract Extension

The Louisiana State University School of Veterinary Medicine’s Equine Medication Surveillance Laboratory (EMSL) has received a three-year extension of its contract with the Louisiana State Racing Commission to provide drug testing of racehorses in the State.

Established in 1987, the EMSL performs all equine drug testing for the Louisiana State Racing Commission. The laboratory, one of only 18 of its kind in the United States, tests about 8,000 horses each year, analyzing blood and urine samples for a long list of illegal drugs and other prohibited substances.

In 2007, the national banned-substance standards for the horseracing industry were expanded to include anabolic steroids, and on January 1, 2009, the Louisiana State Racing Commission adopted the national rule, banning all anabolic steroids that do not occur naturally in a horse. In order for the EMSL to be able to perform the expanded range of tests needed, the commission increased their funding to the laboratory to ensure that they have the resources needed to perform the job.

According to Steven Barker, MSc, PhD, director of the EMSL, the new contract extension will almost double the amount of funding the laboratory receives.

"Our previous contract was for $700,000 per year for three years," Barker said. "But this latest extension will bring in almost $1.4 million per year for the three-year period. We will be acquiring nearly $1 million of new, cutting-edge mass spectrometric equipment to conduct the testing and hiring five or six additional employees to handle the increased workload.

"The additional equipment and expertise available in the EMSL will have other benefits, as well. Over the past 22 years, many researchers from LSU and outside the University have utilized our facilities and collaborated with us on their investigations. With our enhanced capabilities, there will be a greater opportunity for more faculty, graduate students, and post-doctoral researchers, as well as others, to take advantage of our expanded facilities," Barker said.

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