horse_steroidsNews of steroids use in Major League as well as in the athletic field has been recently landing on front pages of news sources. This hot topic is also bleeding over into the horse racing sports and industry.

With the recent appointment of DVM Mary Scollay as Kentucky’s first equine medical director, the use of anabolic steroids on equines may be facing stricter regulations. Her appointment came in the aftermath of the tragic end of Eight Belles, a filly who finished second in the recent Kentucky Derby held on May 3. Eight Belles has suffered injury only a quarter of a mile past the finish line and has to be euthanized several minutes later.

Anabolic steroids are widely used in the industry for bulking up young horses in sales. In race horsing, these compounds are known to enhance appearance and performance of show horses and racehorses. Use of anabolic steroids on horses is legal in the United States except for the state of Iowa. However, because of recent negative events in race tracks across the country, such practice may end soon.

There have been much publicized criticisms that say animals are exploited through the use of anabolic steroids to boost stamina and power. The Congress, for one, has questioned the practice of injecting racehorses with steroids to keep them on their feet during the weeks before high-stakes races. Also, the National Thoroughbred Racing Association and other similar groups have proposed a ban on steroid use in the month prior a race to give horses time to get the drugs out of their systems. If this proposal is pushed through, it would be in effect December this year.

However, at the other side of the fence, are opponents of a blanket ban on steroids use. Steroids, they say, are necessary to aid in horses’ recovery from different conditions, which include abdominal and respiratory illnesses, and physical injuries. Further, they say there is no evidence that this group of drugs make horses run faster.