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Rooting out doping in racehorses

Date:
January 13, 2016
Source:
American Chemical Society
Summary:
Doping in the horseracing industry has spurred regulations banning performance-enhancing drugs, as well as calls for an anti-doping agency in the US. But as in human sports, testing for certain kinds of prohibited substances has been a challenge. Now scientists report a new detection method that could help anti-doping enforcers determine whether a horse has received certain substances.
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Doping in the horseracing industry has spurred regulations banning performance-enhancing drugs, as well as calls for an anti-doping agency in the U.S. But as in human sports, testing for certain kinds of prohibited substances has been a challenge. Now scientists report in ACS' journal Analytical Chemistry a new detection method that could help anti-doping enforcers determine whether a horse has received certain substances.

To give their animals an edge on the track, some horse trainers and veterinarians might administer a single substance, a cocktail of hormones, hormone-mimicking compounds or other drugs. Most are prohibited in the racing world, but catching violators can in some cases be difficult with conventional methods. Existing techniques directly test for the original compounds administered to an animal or their unique metabolites or byproducts. But some of these substances can get processed and eliminated by the animal quickly, making the window for detection very short. George Ho Man Chan, Terence See Ming Wan and colleagues are currently investigating unconventional ways to increase the chances of catching cheaters.

The researchers have identified seven biomarkers in urine that potentially indicate whether a horse has been given aromatase inhibitors, a class of compounds also used by bodybuilders to help regulate hormones and get an edge on the competition. Testing for the changes in these naturally-occurring biomarkers in horse urine could reveal the administration of the substances for about 95 to 195 hours after injection. That's 2 to 2.5 times longer than conventional screening methods. Being able to find evidence for the administration of these drugs for two or more days longer than before could increase the chances that rule-violators will be caught. With further validation studies, this method could be developed into a useful screening tool for detecting the use of aromatase inhibitors in horses.


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Materials provided by American Chemical Society. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. George Ho Man Chan, Emmie Ngai Man Ho, David Kwan Kon Leung, Kin Sing Wong, Terence See Ming Wan. Targeted Metabolomics Approach To Detect the Misuse of Steroidal Aromatase Inhibitors in Equine Sports by Biomarker Profiling. Analytical Chemistry, 2016; 88 (1): 764 DOI: 10.1021/acs.analchem.5b03165

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American Chemical Society. "Rooting out doping in racehorses." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 13 January 2016. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/01/160113132809.htm>.
American Chemical Society. (2016, January 13). Rooting out doping in racehorses. ScienceDaily. Retrieved May 24, 2017 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/01/160113132809.htm
American Chemical Society. "Rooting out doping in racehorses." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/01/160113132809.htm (accessed May 24, 2017).

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