10/17/2013 5:24PM

Delaware Park: Trainer's syringes had active ingredient in Cialis

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The substances found in the Delaware Park barn of Donald Roberson that led to the trainer receiving a two-year suspension were compounded drugs, one of which contained the active ingredient in Cialis and the other containing a drug that may have been used in an attempt to increase a horse’s stamina, according to drug-testing officials and chemists.

The substances were found in loaded syringes when Roberson’s barn at Delaware Park was searched July 13. One of the substances was labeled “GTO Accelerator,” and the other was labeled “SK360.” Manufacturers of compounded veterinary products often give their products quirky names and many times do not list the ingredients.

After being forwarded to the Racing Medication and Testing Consortium, the substances were sent to the HFL Sports Science Lab in Lexington, Ky., for analysis. The substance labeled “GTO Accelerator” contained dichloroacetic acid, according to the RMTC, while the substance labeled “SK360” contained tadalafil, which is marketed under the trade name Cialis to improve blood flow in humans and induce erections.

A number of online marketers advertise tadalafil pills and similar drugs for horses, including Cialis’s competitor, Viagra. The class of drugs are known as PDE5 inhibitors. It is unlikely that the drugs have any effect on racehorses, officials say, but they are illegal to administer, regardless of their efficacy.

“Some PDE5-type inhibitors have been researched for their potential to decrease lung capillary pressure in horses and thereby possibly decrease the likelihood of bleeding into the lungs,” said Dr. Dionne Benson, the executive director of the RMTC, in a statement. “These substances are sometimes administered on race day as adjunct bleeder medications. The research has shown, however, that the dose required to produce an effect cannot be maintained.”

Dichloroacetic acid, meanwhile, can prevent the formation of lactic acid, the chemical that builds up in fatigued muscles. Many trainers have experimented with substances to prevent the buildup of lactic acid, with the goal of increasing a horse’s stamina in a process called bicarbonate loading. To combat those activities, horses in many jurisdictions are tested for total carbon dioxide (TCO2) in the blood prior to running.

Dichloroacetic acid “would act similarly to bicarbonate treatment but would not be detectable using a test for TCO2 or bicarbonate,” said Dr. Rick Sams, the head of the HFL lab, also in a statement. “It would likely be used on race day to increase stamina and speed in the horse.”

Roberson was banned from Delaware Park four days after the search and was later suspended for two years by the Delaware Park stewards. The Delaware Thoroughbred Racing Commission on Wednesday upheld the suspension.

The analysis of the samples was performed under a new program implemented by the RMTC to rapidly test drugs that are seized on backstretches or from trainers or veterinarians. The program has tested a handful of substances over the past 12 months, with the vast majority sold by compounders or Internet marketers and having no efficacy.