Equine performance genes and the future of racehorse doping

Racehorse tied in stall.by VIVIAN FARRELL

Gene doping seems to be on a lot of people’s minds. Including ours.

I decided to do a quick search, and I came across the following abstract from May 30, 2017:

“EQUINE PERFORMANCE AND THE FUTURE OF DOPING IN HORSERACING

“A horse’s success on the racetrack is determined by genetics, training and nutrition, and their translation into physical traits such as speed, endurance and muscle strength. Advances in genetic technologies are slowly explaining the roles of specific genes in equine performance, and offering new insights into the development of novel therapies for diseases and musculoskeletal injuries that cause early retirement of many racehorses.

“Gene therapy approaches may also soon provide new means to artificially enhance the physical performance of racehorses. Gene doping, the misuse of gene therapies for performance enhancement, is predicted to be the next phase of doping faced by horseracing.

“The risk of gene doping to human sports has been recognised for almost 15 years, and the introduction of the first gene doping detection tests for doping control in human athletes is imminent. Gene doping is also a threat to horseracing, but there are currently no methods to detect it.

“Efficient and accurate detection methods need to be developed to deter those looking to use gene doping in horses and to maintain the integrity of the sport. Methods developed for human athletes could offer an avenue for detection in racehorses. Development of an equine equivalent test will first require identification of equine genes that will likely be targeted by gene doping attempts.

“This review focuses on genes that have been linked to athletic performance in horses and, therefore, could be targeted for genetic manipulation.”

• Source — https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28349656 »

This is the bit that caught my attention.

The risk of gene doping to human sports has been recognised for almost 15 years, and the introduction of the first gene doping detection tests for doping control in human athletes is imminent. Gene doping is also a threat to horseracing, but there are currently no methods to detect it.

” . . . no methods to detect it”. Is this where American horse racing is heading? Perhaps they are already there. That abstract is from more than two years ago.

In the meantime, until we learn more, what does this mean concerning the Horse Racing Integrity Act — H.R.1754 — which The Horse Fund is currently neutral on? Is this on the bill’s radar, or purposely left off?

As we mentioned in a previous post, H.R. 1754 gave us a fox and henhouse vibe, so we turned it over to a couple of experts to review, one in horse racing and one in legislation.

In the meantime, for kicks, I also did a quick dictionary search for “gene doping”. By definition gene doping is:

noun
the transfer of genes or genetically modified cells into an individual as a potential method for illicitly enhancing athletic performance

That’s clear enough. But you know how a dictionary gives you a sample use of the word? Look at the sample they gave:

“rules against gene doping might be difficult to enforce”

I bet! And won’t horse racing just love that.

Here’s another:

“a form of drug abuse in sport in which genetic material is injected into muscle to enhance performance or stimulate muscle growth”

What won’t these people do?

WHAT A CIRCUS

I have noticed a few articles lately comparing the demise after 146 years of “The Greatest Show on Earth”, the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, to the future demise of horse racing. Millions believed that Ringling’s show would “go on” no matter how many animal rights activists worked against it.

The bad news for American horse racing is the cruelty and death associated with it has caught the public’s imagination plus the animal rights’ activists. They hate both what they are seeing, and what they are hearing. And they don’t seem to be going away.

How long will it take to reach tipping point? I don’t know. But what about American horse racing? How concerned are they?

Typically, they are making a few noises here and there, because they have to. However, it’s pretty much business as usual. You see. They are so blinkered with arrogance, they can’t see the elephant in the room.

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