Routine on US Tracks, Doping is Banned in Europe


NPR, Eleanor Beardsley, April 23, 2013

(LIsten to this story on All Things Considered)


French jockey Olivier Peslier celebrates a win at Longchamps racecourse near Paris in 2012. While many drugs can legally be used on horses in U.S. racing, they are barred in Europe.Fred Dufour /AFP/Getty Images

At the famous Hippodrome de Longchamp just outside of Paris this month, crowds came to cheer and bet on the sleek thoroughbreds that opened horse racing season by galloping down the verdant turf course.

Horse racing in Europe is different from the sport in the U.S., from the shape and surface of the track to race distances and the season itself. Another big difference is doping.

Drugs are not allowed in European horse races. But in America, they aren’t just legal, they’re widely used — particularly furosemide, better known as Lasix. The drug helps prevent horses’ lungs from bleeding during races.

Gina Rarick, an American horse trainer in France, is grooming a horse at her stables in Maison Lafitte, lush horse country west of Paris. Rarick feels the practice of administering Lasix is ruining the sport in America.

“Every horse in America starts his day with a shot or two in the neck. I’m sorry, but it’s wrong. It’s just wrong.” she says. “The Americans … have these horror stories about, ‘Oh, if we don’t use Lasix they’re gonna bleed to death and drop in front of people.’ … It’s ridiculous. We don’t use Lasix in the rest of the world.”

Last month, the American horse Animal Kingdom, winner of the 2011 Kentucky Derby, had a two-length win at the Dubai World Cup. That victory, Rarick says, shows that a horse can run without Lasix.

It also comes at a time when drugging is a top issue in the U.S. racing industry. The Breeders’ Cup has banned race-day drugging of 2-year-olds and was going to extend that ban to all of its races this year. But last month, the Breeders’ Cup board rolled back on those plans, in part due to lack of support by many in the racing industry.

A Powerful Drug

Rarick says Lasix is a powerful diuretic.

“If you give a horse a shot of Lasix and then watch what happens, he’ll start to pee, and pee, and pee. … [It] gives the [phrase] ‘piss like a racehorse’ a whole new meaning,” she says. “He will lose … 30 pounds of body weight in fluids. … It’s a tremendously powerful drug.”

CONTINUED — Read more at National Public Radio

AUTHOR: Jerry Finch
  • Debbie Tracy

    Oh my goodness I don’t know the more I learn about what takes place in this country, how heart broken I get I honestly had no idea about so much Like I said before so many of us go about our life and just try and survive day to day and then something huge comes into your life a purpose to fight to fight to the end and horse slaughter and horses in general is
    my passion to help in anyway I can ALL HORSES deserve a good life,my two horses certainly do, let’s all remember>>> GENESES 9:1-3 Human’s “rule” over animals does not mean we have the right to mistreat or misuse those animals>>> I wish people would honestly respect the horse for the greatness it is instead of only thinking about what they can gain by winning!!!!

    April 24, 2013
  • Valerie Wehmueller

    I think there’s two ways to look at this subject. First of all, drugs should not be given to any horse, animal or human, period, unless they actually need it! So, it could be that the Europeans are just smarter than us, or they care more about their horses than us, but then, the awful, ugly truth that eating horses in Europe is as common & as accepted as your everyday McDonald’s, comes to mind, which could be one reason they don’t “allow drugs” in their thoroughbreds? We, on the other hand, choose to drug our horses just like ourselves, which could actually be a good thing, drugging them with banned substance just might, note I said, “might”, keep them out of our food chain, off our plates, & maybe, just maybe, prevent horse slaughter facilities from restarting here in good ole America!

    April 25, 2013