An Al Duncan musing

27th November 2014 : I'm Waiting for the Man

With a bit more spare time on my hands for a couple of months, I've tended to read most of the articles published on the Racing Post website. You know, under their News section.

There was one item a couple of days ago that made me sit up and ponder. It came from Ireland and reported on retired vet John Hughes who has been declared a disqualified person for 5 years by the Turf Club (Ireland). Hughes had been found trying to import 6kg (around 1,500 doses) of the anabolic steroid Nitrotain (formal name ethylestrenol) from Australia in February 2012.

Anabolic steroids improve muscle development and growth, stimulate red blood cell production (i.e. improving stamina), increase bone density and stimulate the appetite of debilitated or weakened animals. It can also assist in the repair of tissue. Any use of anabolic steroids on racehorses is not permitted in the UK and Eire. Of course, recent months has seen the disqualification of Mamood Al Zarooni in the UK for administration of the anabolic steroid Stanozolol, which has an anabolic steroid index of 3.8, and is detectable for up to 10 days after use.
Nitrotain, which is not detectable after 96 hours of application but with effects which last longer, has an anabolic steroid index rating of 19.

Yes, 19.....

So, just for what purpose, and for whom was Hughes acting? Well, we'll never know as Hughes has refused to reveal his clients under the veterinary code of confidentially. No, I'd never heard of this either.

But Nitrotain? Early 2012? Wasn't.......
Yes, there is was - Irish trainer Philip Fenton was found guilty of possessing, and attempting to conceal 1kg of the very same Nitrotain at his stables in January 2012. He named both 'a local vet' and 'a friend based in Dubai' as his suppliers. Fenton now faces a 3 year ban from the sport, which is currently under appeal as being too severe. Tell that to Al Zarooni!

Now Fenton had 1kg of Nitrotain in his yard, so 1kg into 6kg goes 6 times. It's not a huge leap of 'conspiracy theory' to conclude that Hughes may have had up to 6 clients 'Waiting for the Man'. Up to Lexington 125 indeed!
And Hughes is keeping stum.....

A word of warning to those in the racing industry - both the tempted and the regulators. The world of professional cycling was similarly dogged by widespread use of performance enhancing drugs for decades, and supported by a 'code of secrecy' within teams and riders. The last couple of years has seen the lid blown off this sport (Armstrong et al) with subsequent loss of high profile sponsors. That sport has embarked on the road to recovery which involves a zero tolerance and 'open door' approach to regulatory bodies. And whistleblowing!

If Racing Administers, and I include both Turf Club and Jockey Club, fail to address cheating and fraud at the highest level by the use of anabolic steroids then it'll only be a matter of time before the sport that I love is irreparably damaged.
Just the leverage that the RSPCA are seeking to top their crusade to ban horse racing forever.

Feel sick and dirty, more dead than alive? Just Say No!!!

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