Gene doping of racehorses

Irish Thoroughbred Mare and Foal. Image by Alicia Frese (c) Flint Gallery.
Gene doping. What next? Irish Thoroughbred Mare and Foal. Image by Alicia Frese (c) Flint Gallery.

Well, what could possibly be next we ask, when it comes to horse racing, cheating and drugs?

We have been so busy working on racehorse doping and horse slaughter in America, we’ve had very little time for anything else, especially the international scene. Gene doping seems to be the latest scam.

The Racing Post reported the following back in April of this year.

BHA commits £1 million in funds to fight against gene doping of horses

By Scott Burton | 22 April 2019

The BHA [British Horseracing Authority] will spend an initial £1 million to investigate ways in which racing can protect itself from gene manipulation, a leading sports anti-doping conference was told last week.

The study will be conducted by the LGC laboratory in Newmarket, with scientists looking at a range of potential applications including attempts to improve performance, change breeding outcomes and speed recovery from raceday effort and even injury.

The Racing Post reported last October that the International Federation of Horseracing Authorities and the International Stud Book Committee had “agreed principles to combat the problem and a road map for adopting practical deterrents” as first steps to combating a problem which is viewed in human sport as the next frontier after blood doping.

The day after the 2018 Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe the IFHA’s gene doping sub-committee chair, Dr Kunichi Kasano, warned the body’s annual conference in Paris that gene doping could “endanger the integrity of the sport and wagering, and will risk creating genetically modified thoroughbreds”. Read more at The Racing Post »

Bloody ‘ell as they say back home.

But what about this from 2017? America must be cheating this way too. They cheat doing  everything else, from milkshakes to frog juice to shock wave therapy. The reported on it in 2017.

Getting Ahead of Gene Doping in Racehorses

Gene doping’s effects, good or bad, remain unclear. It might not affect performance and could have serious side effects.

The Horse | Nov 9, 2017

Gene doping could be the hot new thing in horseracing. More specifically, the hot new bad thing. As pharmaceutical doping tests become more powerful and efficient, and as gene therapies advance, the black market of the horseracing industry is turning to gene doping. And that’s opening a whole new can of proteins for detection.

“Some genes that are the focus of gene therapy research for their therapeutic effects may also have a role in athletic performance, and this is where the concept of gene doping stems from,” said Tessa Wilkin, PhD, of the University of Sydney School of Veterinary Science and the National Measurement Institute Bioanalysis Group, both in Sydney, Australia.

By injecting certain genes directly into a horse, handlers might be able to influence performance, Wilkin said. However, scientists have not yet studied the effects—good or bad—of these injections. They might not affect performance, and they could cause severe side effects. It’s even possible the genes could filter through the bloodstream into the reproductive organs.

“This is one of the risks associated with gene doping—the injected gene could then be inherited with unknown effects on the foal,” she said. Read more at the »

At the Asian Racing conference in 2018, Dr. Kanichi Kusano, JRA official veterinarian and chair of the ARF Drug Control Committee, as well as the International Federation of Horseracing Authorities Gene Doping Control Sub-Committee, provided a background with regards to gene doping and the role of the sub-committee, stated:

“Gene doping is just a trend of the times. In effect, it is the misuse of drugs—in this instance, the misuse of DNA,” Kusano said. “It just means that we need new experts and new instruments in order to deal with gene doping. Read more at the »

Good gawd. How disgusting.

Jane, oh Jane, will you come and explain all this to us please? (She always knows everything)

Related Reading

New BHA chair warns of ‘ethical challenge’ facing racing over welfare, The Racing Post, 2 July 2019, by Bill Barber.

States Annamarie Phelps, in her first public speech since taking over as BHA chair:

We are seeing the rise of the social consumer who really cares about what they buy and that it doesn’t harm the planet, or its people or its creatures.

Updated 5:48 pm EST

4 thoughts on “Gene doping of racehorses”

  1. Thank you everyone at Tuesday’s Horse for your kind words and for continually working to expose and end all horse racing through education AND legally.

    I actually did file a complaint with the FBI about 15 years ago and provided a slew of exhibits showing how racing is the only gambling entity allowed to intake wagers across state lines which then puts them at risk of violating the RICO statutes (which was used against the mafia) if there is collusion to cheat through passing of money across state lines. I further provided exhibits, for example, showing how one racing state refuses to warn the bettors in other racing states that a horse racing at the host track has been heel nerved (done so that the horse feels no pain in its foot) even though some of the racing states ban horses from racing if they have been heel nerved and others do not. Furthermore, some states that do allow heel nerving require that the TRAINERS know which horses are heel nerved by a posting in the Racing Secretary’s office. I assume such a notice is there so if a trainer does not want to run against a horse which such an advantage, they do not have to enter that race. However, the BETTORS never ever see that notice not at that track or any simulcast track and their wagers are accepted across state lines. Intentionally, racing insiders are given notice but bettors are not. It is bizarre that the racing program must tell bettors (including across state lines) that a horse has a change in equipment — added blinkers for example — yet NOT have to tell if a horse has been heel nerved. Albeit, I am not currently aware of what states allow or do not allow heel nerving now but that was true at the time of my complaint years ago.

    What would be clearly collusion among tracks and taking money across state lines would also happen when Horse “A” is racing in AZ and wins the race. However, days or weeks later Horse “A” is disqualified for a drug overage yet that race was simulcast across the country and people placed wagers on all the horses in that race. The disqualified Horse “A” has now lost the purse money and all horses in the field are moved up (Horse “B” now is the winner, “C” second place, “D” third place and so on and all of the purse money is redistributed to those IN racing that benefit: owner of the horse, trainer, jockey, jockey’s agent. What about the BETTORS? Nope! They are cheated. Bettors who wagered on Horse “B” to win and other wagers made that included Horse “B” and perhaps Horse “C” and Horse “D” such as the exotic wagers who now due to the disqualification truly DID now win their wager– they are NOT notified and have no option to collect on their truly winning bet. Those IN racing certainly made the “pot right” when they redistributed the purse but there is no redistribution of the wagers. Racing makes sure the insiders in racing not cheated by purse redistribution but they collude to NOT let the bettors know about the disqualification. The gamblers too should have their wagered money that came to the hosting track across state lines redistributed — their lost bet is now a winning bet.

    There are so many different instances where this happens and it is appalling that no one in law enforcement seems to care about this.

    I’ll leave this thought: Currently, only the winning horse and randomly at the stewards’ decision other horses “may” be drug tested. But wait!!! Wagers are made on EVERY horse in a race not just the winner so it follows that at the end of the race, EVERY horse should be drug tested! If horse racing had any concern about the horses they accept as “fair competition” entries and take in millions of dollars in wagers on ALL horses, then ALL horses should be drug tested from first place to last place at the end of every single race. Only then would we know the real extent of drugging of these poor horses.

    Thank you again!


  2. Well, rest assured if the British Horseracing Authority has already committed a million pounds to the investigation of gene doping, our the stick-in-the-mud USA fragmented racing industry will be 20 plus years behind in committing a dime.

    We don’t even have to get into how we have drug thresholds for a myriad of drugs and multiple labs of questionable abilities versus the BHA with one lab for all of European racing and drug thresholds there ONLY for natural occurring substances like testosterone. Let’s talk in simpler terms.

    In 1997, British newspapers boasted that the “day of the ringer” was over as horses were no longer just tattooed and would have “chips on their shoulders” but it took USA racing over 20 years to start microchipping and then just are phasing it in! How easy to immediately microchip every single horse but no, wait over 20 years and then start with new foal crops only! Oh, yeah, what’s the fine here for “accidentally” bringing the
    wrong bay horse to race? $50 maybe?

    That our law enforcement agencies continually give racing a pass and allow collusion and corruption while wagers cross state lines should outrage every single person and cause bettors to finally count how many ways they are duped.

    Gene doping? No worries! The 38 different racing jurisdictions should be thinking about doing something around 2040.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Superb comment coming from someone who has hands on experience of the ins and outs of U.S. horse racing. Thank you for taking the time to add your expertise here.

      We love that you mention something that rarely gets talked about, but we question quite a bit at The Horse Fund, and that is this:

      “That our law enforcement agencies continually give racing a pass and allow collusion and corruption while wagers cross state lines should outrage every single person and cause bettors to finally count how many ways they are duped.”

      We have tried every type of law enforcement including the FBI regarding race fixing scams and related illegal horse doping, and no matter how much we pursue it, it goes nowhere. We started in 2012 and our claims just dry up and blow away, no matter what part of the country, small track, big track, etc. It is so frustrating. That gives all the appearances that there is collusion at every level.

      Horse racing will see soon enough that the average citizen, who hate what they do — the drugging, killing and maiming — cannot be turned and will eventually shut it all down. We long for that day, for the mayhem, suffering and death of racehorses to end.


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