CHRB Takes Action to Limit Clenbuterol Use

POSTED ON  |  26-10-2018

The California Horse Racing Board took action on two separate measures to "deauthorize any detectable level of clenbuterol" in racehorses during its monthly meeting Oct. 25 at Santa Anita Park. The first action was a temporary 12-month measure, scheduled to begin Nov. 15, that will not allow any presence of clenbuterol to show up in a post-race drug test in Thoroughbreds. The prior rule allowed a threshold of 140 picograms per milliliter in Thoroughbreds. A picogram is one trillionth of a gram.

The CHRB approved the proposal with a 4-0 vote with little discussion, although Thoroughbred Owners of California president and CEO Greg Avioli did express some apprehension that the organization "didn't have the opportunity to fully vet" the measure.

On Nov. 15, clenbuterol will still be permitted for therapeutic use and in training, as long it doesn't show up in a post-race test. The penalty for a positive test will remain a Class 3 infraction, according to CHRB staff. The most notable clenbuterol positive in recent years came in 2017, when graded stakes winner Skye Diamonds tested positive for the drug (196 picograms per milliliter). Trainer Bill Spawr was fined $3,000, suspended 30 days, and placed on probation for a year for the infraction via a settlement agreement with the CHRB.

Clenbuterol can be used as a bronchodilator but also can have performance-enhancing qualities similar to anabolic steroids when misused in humans and horses. CHRB equine medical director Dr. Rick Arthur said if all horses were taken off clenbuterol Thursday, they should be clear of the drug by the Nov. 15 start date.
  • "And if anyone is concerned, we can do pre-entry testing at no cost, and we will make those arrangements and communicate that through the (California Thoroughbred Trainers)," Arthur said.
A few minutes after the first measure was approved, the CHRB moved to make an official, lasting rule change with slightly different guidelines regarding clenbuterol. That proposal was approved to be sent out for a 45-day public comment period and would likely take several months to get fully enacted, according to CHRB staff. Under that proposal, a post-race positive test would still trigger an infraction, but there would be extra precautions put in place ahead of races, should connections elect to administer the drug.

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