EPO antibody testing started in 2003
Horses racing in Ontario are tested for Erythropeietin (commonly known as EPO) and darbepoetin (DAR) antibodies. Horses testing positive are removed from racing.
In 2003 the Commission worked with New York State Gaming and Wagering Board to develop common protocols for the test. A program was implemented in the fall of that year to combat the use of this drug. Possession and use of these drugs has been prohibited in the rules since 2002, but a test to detect their presence in a horse’s system had not been available.
The test provides the Commission with a tool to remove a horse from competition. Apart from the removal of the horse, no penalty is assessed for a positive. The detection of the antibodies only determines that a horse received the drug but cannot assess when the drug was administered. The ORC recognizes that this course of action may penalize individuals who may not have administered the drug to the horse, but the Commission has determined that it is in the best interests of racing that the horse not be allowed to continue to race under these conditions.
Since the implementation of the program in the fall of 2003, thirteen horses out of 48,059 tested have been placed on the Veterinarian’s List for testing positive (as of February 1, 2005).
- Any horse entered to race in Ontariomay be tested for the antibodies of erythropeietin or darbepoetin.
- All claimed horses will be tested. If the antibodies are detected in the blood sample, the judges/stewards may reverse the claim and the monies paid by the claiming owner.
- Horses that have died and been registered in the Horse Death Registry will be tested.
- Blood samples taken for the purposed of the TCO2 testing program, which did not result in a TCO2 positive, will be used for this test.
- If antibodies are detected in the blood sample, the horse in question will be placed on the Veterinarian’s List and will not be eligible for racing until a blood sample negative for the antibodies is produced.
The ORC will continue to monitor closely the work being conducted in the scientific field to develop a test for the drug itself and when such a test is developed, will work closely with the Canadian Pari-Mutuel Agency for its adoption in Ontario.
What is EPO and what is its affect on the horse?
EPO, short for erythropoietin, triggers the horse’s body to produce more red blood cells, and is thought to improve performance by increasing the blood’s oxygen carrying capacity. Regulators around the world have been working to eliminate the use of the drug because of its potential effects on performance and its detrimental impact on the health of the animal.
||ORC selects VitaTech as EPO Lab
||ORC Press Release EPO antibody test fall 2003