Breakthrough as new doping threat uncovered in harness racing
USA: A breakthrough in drug testing in the world of harness racing arrived with news that two standardbred horses racing at Yonkers Raceway in New York State have tested positive to the synthetic doping agent IOX-2.
According to the Association of Racing Commissioners International (ARCI), IOX-2 is both a blood and gene doping agent that “can trigger EPO-like effects as well as overall stimulation of an athlete”.
Dr George Maylin, the New York Equine Drug Testing Programs Director, warned of such new threats at last year’s ARCI annual conference.
He confirmed the presence of IOX-2 in two Yonkers horses, later revealed to have been trained by Michael Temming, who has been suspended. Both horses ran without winning in December.
While discovering a new drug can hardly be regarded as good news, the silver lining to this cloud is that a reliable test appears to have been developed to unmask this synthetic agent, described as a “major doping threat to both human and equine sport”.
The New York horse racing lab is believed to be the first laboratory, in either horse racing or the worldwide WADA network of human testing labs, to screen for and confirm the presence of IOX-2.
Formed in 1934, ARCI is the umbrella group of racing regulators throughout North America and the Caribbean.
“Unfortunately IOX-2 is just one doping agent and we are not naive to believe that others are not finding their way into professional sport,” said ARCI president Ed Martin. “Whether it be a racing lab or a WADA lab, we share a common mission and can never let our guard down. Today it’s IOX-2; tomorrow it’s going to be something else.”