Thoroughbred Breeders Australia has issued a press release criticising the handling of a positive drug from a yearling colt at the Gold Coast Magic Millions.
The colt tested positive to altrenogest, which is a hormone in regu-mate, a drug given to control oestrogen in fillies and mares to keep them from coming into season, to help broodmares retain foals in difficult pregnancies and to help keep horses calm.
It was included on the banned anabolic steroid list for colts and geldings only following controversial changes to the Rules of Racing in May 2014. “It’s not an anabolic steroid and should never have been placed on the banned list,” TBA President Basil Nolan stated.
“The TBA has grave concerns that a yearling has tested positive to a drug that’s commonly used on studs and at sales throughout Australia.”
Nolan explained a racing environment is completely different to a sales environment, where yearlings are boxed for up to 14 days compared to a few hours, and they have to be constantly monitored to ensure their well-being and that they are calm and relaxed.
“That is one reason why regu-mate should be permitted in yearlings. It is not performance or growth enhancing, which is why it is not prohibited in fillies and mares. Ultimately, this is not an anabolic steroid.
“The races and sales are poles apart, and that should have been considered before the Australian Racing Board and Principal Racing Association placed altrenogest on the banned list.”
Nolan is most disappointed with the way the situation has been handled right back to the ARB and PRA’s changes to prohibitive substances in May 2014. “There was a complete lack of consultation with the breeding industry when these changes were brought in. It was simply policy on the run, it was not thought through at all and now we are paying the price.”
Nolan said an unnecessary blight has now been cast over the industry and it has been brought into disrepute as a result of an incident which could have been avoided. “The full blame needs to lay with the ARB and the PRA. Our industry is now being ridiculed with aspersions that all these yearlings are being doped.
“The breeding industry is rightly up-in-arms. I would like to make it clear that we have no problems with testing yearlings for anabolic steroids.”
The ARB is currently reassessing the situation with the view to removing the drug from the banned list. Nolan has also asked that the TBA be consulted on what drugs will be tested in the future to ensure the situation does not reoccur.