horse_steroidsThe tragic end of champion filly Eight Belles recently has heightened the public awareness on the use of anabolic steroids on horses. It has also put pressure on horse race horsing authorities across the United States to curb this practice.

The recent hiring of Dr. Mary Scollay as Kentucky’s first equine medical director might be the response to that growing pressure. According to a release announcing the appointment, Scollay will “serve as a consultant on equine medication and health issues and make recommendations on strategies to enhance equine safety and to prevent illicit activities.”

Scollay’s duties include recommending how to prevent illicit activities in horse medication and implementing stricter review procedures for horse autopsies. Further, the Florida veterinarian ‘will help advise whether – and how – the state should impose steroid tests,’ according to Sports Illustrated article. Her appointment was announced on May 19 during a meeting of the Kentucky Horse Racing Authority (KHRA).

Scollay is a 13-year senior veterinarian at Calder Race Course and Gulfstream Park. She has been at the forefront in the national investigation concerning race horses’ welfare. She will begin her duties on July under a contract between KHRA and the University of Kentucky Research Foundation.

The incident of Eight Belles occurred at the 134th Kentucky Derby held at Churchill Downs on May 3. In said event, Eight Belles has finished second to Big Brown but has to be euthanized after she collapsed with two broken front ankles. The filly was euthanized on the track several minutes later.

The autopsy report on Eight Belles, however, showed she was negative for steroids. Same report said that she had no diseases or pre-existing bone abnormalities before her breakdown. The other 19 horses in the Derby were also tested for improper medication levels and the results came back negative.

Anabolic steroids are used on horses primarily to speed up recovery of horses suffering from illnesses, injury, or extreme stress. Anabolic steroids promote erythropoiesis (red blood cell production), protein synthesis as well as healthy appetite on horses.

Also, it seems the trainers decided to buy steroids from down south in Mexico! causing the initial investigation into steroid use.