Updated on 04/12/2012 4:29PM

California board considering zero-tolerance ban of clenbuterol on race day


ARCADIA, Calif. – Clenbuterol, a bronchodilator that also is sometimes used to build muscle, may be prohibited at any level in post-race tests for Thoroughbreds in California as early as this summer, according to discussions at the California Horse Racing Board track safety and medication committee meeting on Wednesday.

Clenbuterol would not be allowed in post-race tests at any level if the prohibition is enacted. Currently, clenbuterol is allowed to appear in post-race tests of Thoroughbreds up to a limit of five nanograms in urine and 25 picograms in blood. Trainers face penalties if horses test in excess of those levels.

The committee recommended that the full racing board discuss the prohibition of clenbuterol at its monthly meeting in April or May. If the racing board votes to fully prohibit the use of clenbuterol, the rule could take effect within a few months, after horsemen are allowed time to modify their use of the medication.

There is a precedent for such a ban in the state. Since last fall, clenbuterol has no longer been allowed for raceday use in Quarter Horses at Los Alamitos. Quarter Horse trainers there are urged to take their horses off the medication 30 days in advance of a race, in order to be certain there is no trace of the drug in horses’ systems on race day..

The board is allowed by rule to suspend the use of a drug on race day by breed, track or race, provided a public notice on the matter is held and horsemen’s organizations are notified.

At Wednesday’s meeting, concern was expressed by University of California-Davis officials that illegal variations of clenbuterol are being used to build muscle mass and not for respiratory purposes. Clenbuterol is primarily used to treat horses with small airway diseases, the committee was told by veterinarians.