Racing officials suspect deadly sea snail venom used as illegal drug

POSTED ON  |  11-07-2019

Sea Snail
A deadly venom found in sea snails which can paralyse fish within a second has emerged as the latest chemical suspected to have infiltrated horse racing, with authorities scrambling to organise testing for the powerful painkiller. Racing NSW and Racing Victoria integrity officials on Monday confirmed they had started screening for the mystery drug, which has subtypes known to be infinitely stronger than morphine.

It can also be extracted to be used for therapeutic purposes on humans in the form of the conotoxin-based Prialt. Racing stewards have received intelligence that a form of sea snail venom has been imported into Australia and used to manage pain in horses suspected to have raced in both the thoroughbred and harness codes.

It is unclear in which state the latest fad is said to have emerged, but the Herald understands multiple racing authorities have been tipped off about its use and developed laboratory testing to weed out those who have dabbled in the product.

The substance is not entirely new to the industry and was understood to have been in use more than decade ago, but until recently had not again been on the radar of racing officials. It's understood to dissolve from a horse's system very quickly and can help numb any pain before heading to the racetrack.

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