There is a giant push to end drugging horses with steroids and other performance enhancing drugs in both harness racing as well as thoroughbred racing. Drug testing is done through most racing commissions, especially when it comes to thoroughbred racing, to make sure that the horses are not being given performance enhancing drugs to make them run faster. Some of these drugs are steroids while others are comprised of other enhancements that will make a horse run faster around the track.
Horses are routinely tested for drug use and those who test positive are disqualified for competition. Harness racing sees more drug use in horses than thoroughbred racing.
The 3 most common performance enhancing drugs and steroids used in horse racing include:
Anabolic steroids are used by athletes, although their use is banned in most major sports. They are performance enhancing drugs that will build up bigger muscles and give longer endurance. Anabolic steroids are illegal in horse racing, although some trainers still use these drugs on horses to make them run faster and give them more endurance on the track. These drugs can be discovered when drug testing the animal at which time they will usually be disqualified from a race. However, since not all horse racing is tightly regulated, especially in the case of harness racing, these drugs are often used before a race in an effort to get a horse to speed up. Four steroids that are used for horses that are banned are stanozolol, boldenone, nandrolene and testosterone.
Corticosteroids or NSAIDS are anti-inflammatory drugs that are also widely used in horse racing. These drugs are used to cut down on inflammation although there are concerns for these drugs when it comes to the concentration amount used for horse racing. Non steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs are legal in horse racing and are widely used, although the use of these drugs has been under scrutiny in the past few months, especially with the Racing Medication and Testing Consortium. There are concerns about the animals being exposed to these drugs and there is current research underway in how they affect the animal in the long run.
Milkshakes are common when it comes to harness horse racing and consist of a combination of baking soda and other ingredients that will delay the lactic acid in horses. The milkshakes are considered to be a performance enhancer and are detectible through drug testing in horses. Drug tests are usually performed to test for this substance as well as anabolic steroids in horses. When drug testing is performed and a horse turns up positive for this substance, they can be disqualified for a race.
There is a growing movement in the horse racing world to test horses for steroids and other performance enhancing drugs by both those who are concerned for the integrity of the sport as well as animal rights activists. There is no national testing system in place to routinely test for performance enhancing drugs in horses when it comes to horse racing, particularly in small venues where the practice of giving horses steroids and other drugs to increase their performance is commonplace.