Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Doping mystery deepens

Doping Mystery Deepens...

The plot thickens. The mystery deepens. And as days pass more and more racing folks admit they can make less and less sense out of it.

On January 9, the racing world woke up to the news that three horses that had run in recent Classics (December 12 and 19, 2010) tested positive for a banned drug, Boldenone. Two of them were Ocean And Beyond and Star Future, winner and runner up of the Grade 1, Indian 2000 Guineas, and the third was Eloise who finished third in the Grade 1, Indian 1000 Guineas run a weak earlier.

The report that pronounced these horses positive and indicted their trainers had come from the Horseracing Forensic Laboratory (HFL) based in Newmarket, England. The nature of revelations was as unprecedented as it was sensational, so much so that Vivek jain, RWITC chairman, called the lab findings 'intriguing' (MiD DAY, Monday, January 10).

The three trainers involved were all top professionals: Pesi Shroff, former jockey-turned-trainer, S K Sunderji who won the Pune Derby recently, and Cooji Katrak, who won the Indian Oaks on January 23 with Moonlight Romance.

However, by Saturday, January 22, two of the three horses pronounced 'positive' by the English laboratory--Star Future & Eloise--were certified 'clean' by another accredited laboratory to which the Royal Western India Turf Club (RWITC) had sent fresh samples. Star Future was tested at the request of trainer Cooji Katrak who wanted to run a fresh test before choosing to run the horse again. Eloise, trained by Pesi Shroff, was put to test by the club as per its own rules when she returned from the farm where the trainer had sent her to rest after a hectic racing schedule.

When MiD DAY contacted Pesi Shroff, he confirmed Eloise has tested clear in a fresh test conducted by the club, “It is in the public domain, so why are you asking me?,” he countered, and refused to say anything further citing the reason that the matter is sub-judice.

Trainer Katrak also toed the same line, “I can only confirm that I have been informed by the club that Star Future has tested negative in a fresh test which I had requested, but since the matter is sub-judice, I don't wish to comment further.”

The third horse involved in the scandal, Ocean And Beyond has also been tested after he won the RR Ruia Cup on January 16, and the report has just come in--another clear negative!Link

What is extremely baffling is that the international scientific community is almost unanimous in the opinion that Boldenone, the alleged drug which is a steroid, can be detected in a horse's system for many months, sometimes for as long as one and a half year! Wikipedia, on its home page for the drug, says '(Boldenone) can show up on a steroid test for up to 1-1/2 year, due to the long undecylenate ester attached to the parent steroid. Trace amounts of the drug can easily be detected for months after discontinued use.'

So the question now baffling everyone is: where did Boldenone, found by HFL, vanish in less than a month's time when it is supposed to be showing up in a horse's system for several months? Or has HFL, the renowned laboratory in the business of testing racehorses, erred this time, and erred badly at that?

The last possibility cannot be ruled out completely. There have been instances when renowned laboratories have given out results, which have been challenged and reversed.

The Aga Khan is reported to have challenged a drug positive ruling against his 1989 Oaks winner Aliysa, and in fact was so incensed that he did not race in England for some years.

In our own backyard, horse owner Vijay Shirke, whose 1000 Guineas winner Thumbelina (1991) was disqualified after the HFL, the same laboratory that has now given the positive ruling for Boldenone, sent in a positive report, fought a protracted battle against HFL to finally win back the race and honour for his filly. Incidentally, the present practice of holding back the second sample and sending it for testing after the first sample returns positive is a move that RWITC started only after the Thumbelina episode.

The biggest shocker, buried in a website called http://ergo-log.com/, devoted to news about performance-enhancing drugs and steroids, might perhaps explain what could have happened in this case which looks extremely mysterious on surface. In a recent article headlined, "Doping test confuses Sulbutiamine with Boldenone", the site points out that Sulbutiamine, a synthetic analogue of Thiamine which is nothing but a variation of vitamin B1, gives out a peak that they would normally have interpreted as proof of the presence of the boldenone metabolite 17-beta-hydroxy-5-beta-androst-1-ene-3-one!

For a layman, that means an analyst can erroneously interpret Sulbutiamine as Boldenone! And it is a known fact that Sulbutiamine or vitamin B1 is freely used by trainers, and its use is valid too.

"These interim negative results have no bearing on the original case, which will be decided by the split samples that have been sent," Vivek Jain, RWITC chairman, told MiD DAY, "there is a procedure to be followed, and we are going by the rule book."

(c) MiD DAY


  1. ha ha , what a joke , and this blog is being used to propogate falsehood.

    this is fresh sample , not split sample.

    lets stick to facts and wait for authentic report.

  2. Dear Anonymous,

    This blog always speaks for the truth.

    As the title suggests, the article is about deepening mystery. It's not a question of a fresh sample, the curious point is where has the Boldenone, spotted by HFL, gone in a month's time?

    If you had done your homework, you would have known it can't vanish so soon.

  3. Prakashji....This is not a mystery but a cover up...All this information is being fed to the common man in small doses as a pacifier.Justice delayed is justice denied.

    The truth of the matter is that the club cant hang the wrong doers. They themselves are so reliant on the golden goose that they cant and will not catch it.

    I firmly beleive that this was an open an shut case but is being draged and with time will be disolved.

    Everyone will go scot free.

    All these horses which have turned positive have nicely been purged now and any traces of banned substances is been taken care by masking agents

  4. dear mr anonymous 1st,

    dont talk too much on the integrity of mr, gosavi,
    if you havd visited his previous notes on the blog you wouldnt say so.. hope you understand..


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