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Archive for  May 2014

Sunday 11, May 2014

Horse Racing Industry Must Act Diligently, Says RCI Chief

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Horse Racing Industry Must Act Diligently, Says RCI Chief

Ed Martin, president of the Association of Racing Commissioners International (RCI), has remarked tendency of the sport for self-flagellation and refusal of participants to take responsibility for their actions or lack of action are serious threats to the horse racing industry’s future.

The president of horse racing’s umbrella regulatory group gave the keynote address on the second day of the organization’s three-day conference in Lexington. Martin provided statistics that indicated that horse racing compares favorably with other major sports in terms of the percentage of clean drug tests. This is despite the fact that the sport tests far more samples each year. The RCI president also talked about investigations after People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) made allegations of horse abuse and mistreatment in the barn of Steve Asmussen.

Martin said we stand here today as regulators trying to police a sport, portions of which seem mired in a culture of negativity and added they never talk about what’s right with this sport. He added if you consistently talk about the negative, you will chase people away from a wonderful sport and if we’re not going to accentuate the positive, we might as well all pack up and go home now. The RCI chief said there are approximately 96,000 races run each year in the United States versus 2,475 Major League Baseball games, 1,275 National Basketball Association games, 1,275 National Hockey League games, and 275 National Football League games. Martin added that the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA), that may oversee equine medication testing for racing, performs about 8,200 tests a year versus 320,000 in racing.  Martin said horse racing compares favorably with Olympics in which about 99.6 percent of test results come back clean for illegal drugs or therapeutic medication overages.

Martin went on to add that USADA allows exemptions for performance enhancing drugs while we don’t allow performance-enhancing substances in our horses (on race day)–you can make an argument for Lasix (Furosemide, also known as Salix) as being performance-enhancing, but we disclose its use (for each horse) and added that USADA doesn’t tell you who uses what drug in what competition. Martin went on to say that if we adopted the program USADA has implemented, it would increase drug use in horse racing.

The Association of Racing Commissioners International chief said he was as “disgusted as anyone else” when he was watching the video released by PETA in March. Martin said he is advocate for (the National Uniform Medication Program), but he is not sure even if we had all those rules on the books, we would have seen anything different (in the PETA video) and you can’t legislate morality. He also remarked that if owners don’t know what they should know, maybe that’s where the system of checks and balances has failed us. The horse racing’s umbrella regulatory group President added it is easy to detach yourself from the (regulatory) front line and it is also easy to sit in the judgment. He added let us stop talking down the sport as there are too many people whose livelihoods depend on it.

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Friday 09, May 2014

BHA Lambasted By Timeform Over Handling Of Godolphin Steroid Scandal

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BHA Lambasted By Timeform Over Handling Of Godolphin Steroid Scandal

Reputed publication company Timeform has severely criticized the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) over their handling of the Godolphin steroids scandal last year. These comments were made in the latest edition of Timeform’s Racehorses annual covering the 2013 Flat racing season.

It was argued by Timeform that it will take “years to repair” the damage caused by the Mahmood al-Zarooni case. The publication giant also urged the BHA for widening the scope of its drug testing and made call for it to seek greater control over veterinarians involved with racing stables. Timeform conclude that any sport that fails to police its doping problems with the utmost rigor pays a heavy price. Timeform added that some awkward, unanswered questions were left due to the speed by which the British Horseracing Authority dispatched the former Godolphin trainer in particular.

Timeform asked how long Zarooni, who was in charge at Moulton Paddocks since 2010, had been administering anabolic androgenic steroids to the horses in his care. It also asked how was the doping program funded and whether it was Zarooni who was responsible for doping of the seven horses, including St Leger winner Encke. The publication group also highlighted the fact that no charges have ever been brought in respect of that septet.

Timeform also pondered the question of how come the disgraced trainer managed to spend much of the period in question (involved in this case) in Dubai while being considered as “solely responsible” for the doping at his Moulton Paddocks Stables in Newmarket. Timeform pointed out that the BHA was strongly critical of ‘management failings’ at Godolphin but not being able to track down and interview Zarooni after the seven new cases came to light.

It was further stated by Timeform that Horsemen’s groups in North America do not grasp the importance for racing’s global image that international events such as the Breeders’ Cup should conform to a worldwide system which bans performance enhancing drugs. In the Racehorses of 2013 tome, the use of anti-bleeding drugs like Lasix that are permitted at the Breeders’ Cup also comes in for critical scrutiny. Timeform said perhaps the Breeders’ Cup organizers would have had more chance of realizing their ambition for a drug-free showpiece if more of those responsible for European-trained runners over the past 30 years had adopted André Fabre’s approach, instead of habitually injecting drugs that are banned in their own countries, in the belief that their horses will be at a disadvantage with the home-trained runners if they don’t.

Timeform contended only time will tell if the latest tinkering will strengthen Britain’s end-of-season domestic program. This comment was made in wake of the Future Champions’ Day, the meeting emphasizing on championship races for two-year-olds, being conducted 24 hours before Champions’ Day itself for creating a climax of two days to the campaign. Timeform also added that it does not reflect well on the architects of the revamped autumn program that a race like the Cornwallis Stakes will have had three different positions in the calendar and been run on two different courses in the space of five years.

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Wednesday 07, May 2014

More Research Required To Catch Cheats, Says WADA Vice-President

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More Research Required To Catch Cheats, Says WADA Vice-President

World Anti-Doping Agency vice-president Makhenkesi Stofile has remarked sport is going to be free of cheats only if science is ahead of the dopers. The WADA VP said pharmaceutical companies assisting WADA is a big step in the fight against cheats.

A long-time advocate of doping-free sport, Stofile said it is positive to see some of the pharmaceutical companies putting their efforts to assisting (WADA) in the fight against doping, because until science consistently stays ahead of the dopers, we are not going to be entirely rid of a cheating culture. He added in this regard, more and more research is going to be crucial in order to sharpen our skills.

The World Anti-Doping Agency vice-president said WADA has done a great job in very difficult circumstances and said he remember in Athens in 2004 that cheating in sport was not only the crime of the athletes, but also the crime of the coaches and, in some cases, the crime of friends or relatives or even governments. He added all these people need to take responsibility for this issue and the numbers of those getting caught is certainly increasing; even the big cheats in sport spend a great deal of time discussing their misdemeanors. The WADA VP added we also have a greater level of cooperation taking place between different stakeholders: the Sports Movement, the International Olympic Committee and of course the public authorities across the world and unless we work together in this way, side by side, we will not succeed in catching the cheats.

He further remarked all the countries need to help in the process of implementing the WADA code and said what needs to be done now, with the implementation of the Code, is the introduction of necessary rules in order to facilitate the process of implementing the Code and all countries and all NADOs and RADOs will need to work with WADA in establishing the legal framework. Stofile added it has a busy first three months, especially with the Sochi Games which was the first Paralympic Winter Games he attended. He remarked he also had an opportunity to visit the WADA Athlete Outreach and Independent Observer teams in Sochi, both of whom demonstrated a wonderful spirit behind their work, and wonderful cooperation and motivation for the athletes, managers, WADA members, and of course the whole anti-doping system, too.

Stofile, who took charge as the vice president of WADA, served on the WADA Executive Committee and Foundation Board from 2004-2010. Stofile was elected by the Foundation Board as WADA’s new Vice President and his three-year term began on January 1, 2014.

In another development, new recommendations have been made from 24 international sports bodies aimed at tackling doping. This includes the storage of samples for up to 10 years that will facilitate more extensive retrospective testing as newly devised methods are put in place. Jiri Dvorak, Chief Medical Officer of FIFA, remarked the fight against doping has intensified over the past 10 to 15 years, but the increase in simple sampling procedures has not stopped some athletes from continuing.

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Monday 05, May 2014

Liliya Shobukhova Banned For Doping

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Liliya Shobukhova Banned For Doping

Liliya Shobukhova, the second fastest female marathon runner of all time, has received a doping ban of two years from the Russian athletics federation.

The Russian athlete was banned for abnormalities in her biological passport. Russian Athletics announced all her results since October 9, 2009 have been annulled. This means her marathon best of two hours 18 minutes and 20 seconds, which was set in winning in Chicago in 2011, will be wiped from the record books. Shobukhova’s suspension is backdated to January 24, 2013 and will end on January 23, 2015. The biological passport can be used to trace fluctuations in hematocrit, hemoglobin, and red blood cell counts and is also effective for tracing changes in testosterone, epitestosterone, and testosterone/epitestosterone ratio that are possible indicators of steroid use.

One of the most successful marathon runners in history, Liliya Bulatovna Shobukhova previously specialized in the 3000 and 5000 meters track events and has been lately competing in marathon races. Shobukhova is the current European record holder in the 3000 m and 5000 m. Shobukhova may be stripped of her 2009, 2010, and 2011 Chicago Marathon victories, as well as her 2010 London Marathon win. Shobukhova will have to repay her prize and appearance money from these London and Chicago races.

Nick Bitel, General Counsel of World Marathon Majors, said WMM will continue to hold a stern line and supports all measures to ensure the integrity of the athletes competing in their races and added that cheats need to understand that they are not welcome in our sport and that they will be caught. Shobukhova has a right to appeal the Federation decision.

Shobukhova won the Philadelphia Distance Run and set a half marathon best of 1:10:21 after representing Russia in the women’s 5000 meters at the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing. In October 2009, she was the female winner of the Chicago Marathon and finished in a time of 2:25:56 and was the female winner of the 2010 London Marathon by finishing in a time of 2:22:00. In October 2010, Shobukhova took the 2009–2010 World Marathon Majors jackpot of $500,000 US dollars with a Russian record of 2:20:25 for the marathon. Shobukhova finished as runner-up last April in London and became the first athlete, man or woman, to win Chicago three years in a row. She is the second-fastest woman in history and is behind only Paula Radcliffe.

Hugh Brasher, the London Marathon race director, said in a statement that London Marathon is at the forefront of the fight against doping in our sport and we are very proud to have been the first major marathon to introduce blood testing for all of our elite competitors, prior to each event. He added this mandatory blood testing commenced at the London Marathon in 2002 and has continued with all our elite competitors throughout and went on to remark that as one of the world’s leading marathons, we continue to work very closely with UK Anti-Doping, the IAAF and WADA (the World Anti-Doping Agency) with the aim of eradicating drug taking in our sport.

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Saturday 03, May 2014

Regulations For Horse Doping Approved By North Dakota

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Regulations For Horse Doping Approved By North Dakota

Medication rules and penalty guidelines that have been recommended by a national group seeking uniform standards for horse doping have been approved by the North Dakota Racing Commission (NDRC).

The NDRC is supporting a plan endorsed by the Association of Racing Commissioners International (RCI), which has regulations for twenty-six therapeutic medications allowed to be administered in certain dosages to horses along with a strict penalty system based on points. It was remarked by Gunner LaCour, the state racing director that consistent regulations are critical for the horseracing industry and there have been concerns among some people that the federal government will intervene if the industry fails to adopt uniform standards. He remarked model medication rules are an integral part of creating a stronger racing industry in both our state and the country as a whole. The state racing director also added if you actually went by our old rules, all of these legitimate therapeutic medications, if there was any of it in their system that would cause a violation and added that is obviously not the best way to do things because some horses have legitimate issues that need to be taken care of.

The Association of Racing Commissioners International system sets thresholds for each drug, putting it down to how many nanograms per milliliter can be administered to a horse. Gunner LaCour said if your horse needs more than that, your horse probably shouldn’t be running. LaCour added very member of the racing industry should support rules meant for the welfare of horses even though it’s a small jurisdiction for live racing with North Dakota having live horse racing at two tracks, in Fargo and Belcourt. He also remarked let us say horsemen come from South Dakota and come here and well, if both of us have the RCI rules, then they know exactly what they have to do right off the bat. He also said but if one of us isn’t doing that, they’re going to have to determine what the rules are every time they move from state to state and that becomes very difficult for them.

In the last few months, the issue of performance-enhancing drug use in horse racing has received increased attention. According to racing officials, it is important to draw a line of distinction between therapeutic medications and banned substances so horsemen are not punished for drugs that might be required by a horse.

South Dakota generally follows the RCI guidelines for horse doping, especially when it comes to determining penalties for violations, according to Larry Eliason, executive director of the South Dakota Commission on Gaming. He added we have not had a case here for several years involving a prohibitive substance, so we have not had to impose a penalty.

In another development, investigations have been launched by the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission and the New York State Gaming Commission into PETA’s allegations in which thoroughbred trainer Steve Asmussen and his top assistant trainer, Scott Blasi, subjected the horses in their care to harmful treatment and administering medication for non-therapeutic reasons.

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Thursday 01, May 2014

Team Sky Urges Ban On Tramadol

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Team Sky Urges Ban On Tramadol

Team Sky have called for the opioid Tramadol to be added to the banned list of  the World Anti-Doping Agency in response to comments made by Michael Barry, a former teammate of Lance Armstrong.

Barry, who rode for Team Sky until his retirement in 2012, recently disclosed that he made use of a legal and powerful drug while racing for the British team. Tramadol has potentially addictive side effects and is classified as a narcotic-like pain reliever that is used by athletes and others to treat moderate to severe pain. This drug can result in nausea, indigestion, vomiting, drowsiness, headache, dry mouth, abdominal pain, and vertigo. Indiscriminate use of this drug can lead to tachycardia, postural hypotension, palpitation, gastrointestinal irritation, or cardiovascular collapse.

Team Sky called for Tramadol to be outlawed so that use of this drug can be regulated using therapeutic use exemption certificates. A spokesperson for Team Sky, which won the past two Tours de France through Sir Bradley Wiggins and Chris Froome, said none of our riders should ride whilst using Tramadol – that’s the policy of this team and added that Team Sky do not give it to riders whilst racing or training, either as a pre-emptive measure or to manage existing pain. The spokesperson added we believe that its side-effects, such as dizziness and drowsiness, could cause issues for the safety of all riders and added we also feel that if a rider has the level of severe pain for its appropriate use, they should not be riding. The spokesperson for Team Sky also remarked that Tramadol is not prohibited by WADA, but this has been our firm position for the last two seasons and all medical staff and riders are aware of this and said our view is that it should be on the WADA list and any appropriate clinical use could be managed through the regulated Therapeutic Use Exemptions.

Tramadol was used by Michael Barry for treating legitimate complaints. Barry remarked he had nagging injuries throughout his career and he used Tramadol when he was injured and racing injured, but he also realized the side effects. The former cyclist said it was a lot stronger than he thought and is potentially addictive.

Sir Dave Brailsford, the Team Sky principal, remarked the no-Tramadol policy of this team was reiterated at the team’s training camp last November. Brailsford said it is similar to someone having their first joint and then moving on to ecstasy or whatever and added then the next thing you know everyone is on crack cocaine.

Tramadol was included on the 2014 “monitoring program” for “possible in-competition abuse” by WADA and the anti-doping agency remarked the World Anti-Doping code stipulates that a substance or method can be considered for inclusion on the WADA prohibited list (which is reviewed every year) if it is determined that it meets two of the following three criteria: it has the potential to enhance sport performance, it represents a health risk to the athletes, and it violates the spirit of sport.

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