Researched and Written
by JANE ALLIN
© The Horse Fund
Performance-enhancing drugs must be banned if we are going to survive as an industry and if thoroughbreds are going to survive as a robust breed.”– ARTHUR HANCOCK
Breeder of Three Kentucky Derby Winners
PART 1 — INTRODUCTION
LITERATURE dating back to antiquity conveys the steadfast penchant of humans to push the boundaries of excellence in performance, all in pursuit of the “golden ring”.
Over time, the proliferation of performance-enhancing drugs commonly referred to as “doping”, particularly by those organizations that regulate competitions, has spread like a pandemic throughout the sports world.
Most unfortunately, horse racing is not atypical of this directive apart from the fact that the athletes have no choice in the matter; the sacrifices are costly and the outcome for the horses even more abysmal.
Moreover, the quest to grab the “golden ring” in the racing industry is far removed from the innocuous merry-go-round.
Today, the discordant topic of medication in the race horse is predominantly a dilemma associated with North American racing.
That is not to say that drug violations do not occur in other countries but rather they are much less commonplace.
Drugs that are administered – some legally – to virtually every racehorse in North America have been banned in the UK, Europe, Japan and all other major racing jurisdictions in the world.
As much as performance enhancement raises issues related to competitive imbalance, what is of greater consequence is the ability of these drugs to mask pain and allow injured horses to keep racing.
Injuries and catastrophic breakdowns in North American racehorses are unmistakably on the rise.
It is widely believed that with the current level of inbreeding producing evermore fragile horses the irresponsible and disproportionate administration of performance-enhancing drugs lays the foundation for the majority of these problems.
The current state of horse racing in North America is best described as a volatile cocktail fueled by economic greed together with increasingly fragile horses and pervasive drug administration that has transformed this once distinguished “Sport of Kings” into a controversial, much maligned commercial industry rife with abuse and disregard for its athletes.
Arthur Hancock Quote Source: The New York Times
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