The talk of late has been steroids in this business. Many of us feel that this has been overblown and driven by other sports and other headlines. Further, we seem to heavily publicize timing issue positives. If a horse wins in 150 with a trace of penicillin or whatever in his system, because he was sick, fans cry that he was "juiced". I think this does us a tremendous disservice.
There are some drugs in this business that are bad. And one of them is EPO, Aranesp or their equivalents. They are brutal on a horse's system and they are used for one reason and one reason only: To win races and take money from honest owners.
Ray Schnittker, trainer and driver of the very nice Deweycheatumnhowe spoke out about it today and it is detailed in this piece.
"I really don't think steroids work," said Schnittker of Middletown, who won the Hambletonian — harness racing's version of the Super Bowl — driving Deweycheatumnhowe in August. "It's a crock, and the politicians just jump aboard because they don't know what they are talking about. They should be testing for EPO (epogen), but it's too expensive. That's what they should catch people doing."
Some jurisdictions are doing great work with EPO and bloodbuilders. New Jersey and Ontario come to mind. But we have to do more.
EPO is ever changing too. I am a big fan of cycling and the Tour De France, but the EPO use there has been turning me off. Further, once they find tests for this, there is always something else to use. I think they are doing the right thing by booting cyclists out for a long time when they finally do catch them.
To see what these jurisdictions are up against, once they find a good test for one thing, another drug pops up. It seems the drug of choice is now CERA. But they are catching people.
Stage winners Leonardo Piepoli of Italy and Stefan Schumacher of Germany tested positive for doping from blood samples taken during this year's Tour de France.
The pair became the second and third riders to test positive for CERA today, an advanced version of the blood booster EPO. Italian cyclist Riccardo Ricco has already admitted to CERA use.
Between them, the three riders won five stages during the July race - or about a quarter of the 21 stages, which has struggled to maintain its credibility after being rocked by doping scandals for three years in a row.
I hope that we in racing are freezing some of these samples to test at a later date. I hope if anyone is using this in our sport, that they are held accountable. These drugs are so powerful that honest folks just can not compete and that does no one any good.