Hair Analysis Detects Drugs in Horses Weeks, Months After Administration

POSTED ON  |  05-12-2018

Hair testing
In the race for the ultimate drug test, Chinese researchers just got a few lengths ahead. In fact, you might even say they got a hundred lengths ahead. That’s because they’ve validated a new hair test that can detect a broad range of “well over 100 prohibited substances in a single analytical run,” their recently published study states. And the clincher is this: It can detect doping weeks and even months after it occurred.
  • “Doping control analysis of a blood or urine sample gives only a snapshot of prohibited substances that may be present in the body at the moment of sample collection,” said Jenny K.Y. Wong, PhD, a racing chemist at The Hong Kong Jockey Club’s Racing Laboratory at Sha Tin Racecourse, in China.
  • “With the much longer detection window of hair testing, however, there is a greater chance of obtaining from a single hair sample evidence of the prior use of a prohibited substance,” she said. “As such, hair testing is best applied to out-of-competition testing for prohibited substances that have no place in a horse.”
Wong tested equine hair samples in association with her fellow researchers, including Terence S.M. Wan, PhD, EurChem, CSci, CChem, FRSC, FAORC, FCSFS, previously the head of the Racing Laboratory and chief racing chemist at The Hong Kong Jockey Club. They put mane hairs through laboratory conditions to make them acquire drugs, somewhat similar to the way hair would receive them in a horse that had been administered those substances, she said. Their testing of the pulverized hair samples showed that it detected, in a single test, all 121 of the prohibited substances and, depending on the length of hair collected, up to six months before.

They also collected mane samples from local horses and found evidence of authorized out-of-competition drugs, she said, including clenbuterol and acepromazine and its metabolites, among others.

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