California Horse Racing Board votes to restrict Clenbuterol use when they should ban it

Breaking News from the Daily Racing Form

Racehorse in blinkers. Google image.
Racehorse in blinkers. Google image.

The California Horse Racing Board voted on Thursday to restrict the use of the bronchodilator clenbuterol in the state this summer, extending the suggested withdrawal time from four days to 21.

The new guideline will take effect with the start of the Del Mar meeting, on July 18.

Currently, clenbuterol is allowed to appear in post-race tests at trace levels – five nanograms of urine or 25 picograms of blood. Those limits will be lowered by July 18, although the new levels have yet to be determined, according to professor Scott Stanley of the University of California-Davis School of Veterinary Medicine. He said the university is conducting a study led by assistant professor Heather Knych that intends to determine the new levels in June or July.

The seven-person racing board voted unanimously for the restricted use of clenbuterol.

We Say

Do not confuse clenbuterol (a bronchodilator that increases lung capacity and has steroid properties as well), with phenylbutazone (a painkiller commonly called bute).

While restricting use of clenbuterol in racehorses may sound like good news at first, the US horse racing industry clearly knows that thousands of its Thoroughbreds are sent to slaughter for human consumption every year. So in good conscience US horse racing should not be allowing the use of clenbuterol at all.

The US and the European Union prohibit the use of clenbuterol in food-producing animals. In light of this, US horse racing is not only sending innocent Thoroughbreds to slaughter but also potentially poisoning Europeans who eat the meat from these horses.

In 2009, China Daily reported:

Clenbuterol, dubbed “shouroujing”, can prevent pigs from accumulating fat, but is harmful to humans and can be fatal. Clenbuterol residue often accumulates in organs such as the liver and lungs. One of the largest food poisoning cases involving clenbuterol happened in Shanghai in September 2006 when 336 people were hospitalized after eating pig meat or organs contaminated with the additive.

A person would be right in wondering how many people have been poisoned or developed fatal illnesses from eating horse meat that have gone undetected or unreported.

In the meantime the US government, fully aware of the toxic horse meat issue, refuses to ban the slaughter of American horses for human consumption. So the Int’l Fund for Horses continually lobbies the European Union to bar the import of horse meat from the US, Canada, Mexico and Australia, and do the job the US will not.


2 thoughts on “California Horse Racing Board votes to restrict Clenbuterol use when they should ban it”

  1. You are so right Barbara. Lasix is also a big problem because it causes dehydration and the mostly like a reason you see horses dropping dead after a race run in hot temperatures. It is all about winning; winning is everything as just about everyone in horse racing will say. Of course, that is the way it is set up and why racehorses are put at risk; so vulnerable to manipulation.


  2. Vivian,
    I looked up the side effects of this drug and from the description of it’s effects on the heart I think this is what causes some race horses to drop dead after a race of a heart attack. This stuff is used all over the world as a diet pill and sold over the internet like candy. Some of the effects are a increase in body temp, tremors, excessive sweating. It is normally used for treating asthmatics or people with breathing problems. This drug is a steroid which targets the smooth muscles such as the cardiovascular muscles which in turn could cause palpitations, possible cardiac hypertrophy, heart muscle necrosis. This drug can be harmful even in small doses and can be addictive.
    This looks another drug that TB’s are given in larger does that leads to a break down of the horse health. The owners don’t care what happens to the horse it’s all about the money. And I’ll bet in countries that eat horse meat that comes from the US there is a high rate of heart problems that if they didn’t eat this stuff wouldn’t exist. This may be just as bad as bute only it works in different ways.


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