Commission on right track with drug ban

Last year the New Mexico Racing Commission banned the drug clenbuterol, a decongestant and bronchodilator that also builds muscles as a steroid, for use in racehorses. This month it extended the ban as it awaits recommendations from the Association of Racing Commissioners International.

Erring on that side of caution is the right tack for a state with five of the six worst track safety records in the nation, according to a 2009-11 New York Times investigation.

Clenbuterol is not in any therapeutic drug approved by the Food and Drug Administration and is banned for IOC-tested athletes as well as in any animal that could be used as food for human consumption.

Human athletes from a Spanish Tour de France cyclist to an American swimmer to Major League Baseball players have been sanctioned for having the drug in their systems.

Meanwhile, New Mexico tracks have routinely been on the board for pushing horses to a breaking point that ends in euthanization. In fact, 25 years ago, New Mexico suspended more than 50 horsemen for drugging horses.

While the ARCI may set a threshold level for clenbuterol, like the one New Mexico had before its ban, some commissioners have said they would like to ban it here permanently.

Considering the 2013 Legislature just passed — and Gov. Susana Martinez just signed into law — funding for drug testing for more horses and tougher sanctions for violations, Racing Commission chairman Rob Doughty III and company are right to keep a tight rein on routinely abused drugs like clenbuterol.

— Albuquerque Journal

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