More on albuterol, the bronchodilator option for New York horsemen

re the post below this about albuterol usage in New York, Andy Belfiore of New York Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association (NYTHA) weighed in to my queries in the conversation below:


I first became acquainted with albuterol in 1994 when trainer Noel Hickey was suspended in Illinois for several positives at Arlington. He’d become a target in Illinois since the summer of 1991 when he’d won 49 of 100 races on the Arlington turf, and unfortunately some real accomplishments of his homebreeding program at the time and his skills as a rare owner/breeder/trainer were besmirched. Of his six positives that summer between July 21 and August 20, five were winners and the other ran third. At an Illinois Racing Board hearing that year, the veterinarians representing both the Board and Hickey essentially agreed that bleeders suffering from bronchial  constriction would benefit from albuterol, a bronchodilator, though neither called it a PED at the time. The popular and more prevalent clenbuterol also is a bronchodilator and is used primarily in similar fashion, but both drugs also have been associated with a secondary steroidal-like effect that aids in muscle building. Clenbuterol like albuterol is a Class 3 substance and it was singled out by the Task Force in New York for abuse; it’s why it recommended a 21-day withdrawal window for the drug, a severe cutback from the 96-hour withdrawal previously in effect. Since, a 14-day withdrawal has been established in New York after a brief fling at 21 days.  Albuterol, however, has remained at 96 hours, and it is, we now realize, a substitute option for clenbuterol in the state. It’s not quite as effective as clenbuterol  according to some trainers, and it tests easier in urine, but anyone with breathing problems or asthma knows its efficacy in humans and there are some gym rats around that use it for strength gain, too.

If clenbuterol has become such a cause celebre, then albuterol should be examined as well, shouldn’t it? Otherwise, down the road, it may come back to haunt racing in the next Task Force report as it did Hickey in 1994.

Other states, by the way, have varying withdrawal times for clenbuterol, which Matt Hegarty wrote about yesterday in DRF:

In Louisiana, clenbuterol is legal to administer within 24 hours of post; in Pennsylvania, the withdrawal time is 72 hours out; in Florida, it is five days out; in New York, regulators recently passed a rule banning clenbuterol use within 14 days of a race. Under the recommended rules, states would be asked to ban clenbuterol at 14 days, a limit that is being advocated to prevent horsemen from administering the drug on a regular schedule to build muscle.

Read his entire piece about a movement to reform and standardize meds here.

More on albuterol, the bronchodilator option for New York horsemen

One thought on “More on albuterol, the bronchodilator option for New York horsemen

  1. fmitchell07 says:

    Sid, You (and Matt) have this one right in your gun sights!
    If human beings experience steroidal effects from albuterol, what would create a differing reaction after its use in horses? Both are mammals, similar digestive and endocrine systems, etc.
    At the very least, however, better airway function in racehorses would allow a collateral improvement in training regimens, which should also cause strengthening and muscle gain, even if there is not steroidal effect.
    So, if the Task Force is trying to prohibit clenbuterol as a muscle builder, wouldn’t its cousin ‘al’ work the same, whether by steroidal properties or elevated workout effects?

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