A week before Big Brown bolted out of the gates at Churchill Downs from the outside post and raced to a thrilling Kentucky Derby victory, the colt’s trainer Rick Dutrow Jr. revealed a little secret.
“I give all my horses Winstrol on the 15th of every month,” Dutrow told the Daily News. “If (the authorities) say I can’t use it anymore, I won’t.”
In any sport involving humans, a declaration of the use of a powerful steroid like Winstrol would set off alarms and public outrage, given the fallout from recent doping scandals in sports, and as Dutrow and Big Brown head into tomorrow’s Preakness, questions have surfaced about the trainer’s use of the drug.
In fact, if Big Brown were racing in one of the 10 states that have adopted the Racing Medication and Testing Consortium’s model rule allowing the use of four anabolic steroids, including Stanozolol (Wistrol’s formal name), for therapeutic uses only, Big Brown might have run into trouble with the doping police, says Dr. Scot Waterman, the RMTC’s executive director.
“If one of (Dutrow’s) horses were running in (those 10 states) with a dose on the 15th, he’d probably have a positive,” said Waterman. “That type of use is what moved us to begin the process we began a couple years ago. It’s not just (Dutrow). There was evidence that these products were being overused or abused.”
The RMTC, which was established in 2000 after an American Association of Equine Practitioners summit, has pushed through its model rule in 10 of the 38 states that feature horse racing. Similar to baseball, where players must get a Therapeutic Use Exemption (TUE) in order to use banned substances for medical needs, a veterinarian treating a horse with any one of those four steroids approved by the RMTC must submit a Medication Report Form, if the horse is competing in the 10 states (Arizona, Colorado, Washington, Arkansas, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Virginia, Pennsylvania and Delaware) that have adopted the rule.
“We’re pretty confident that all of the states will be done with the rule-making process by the end of this year,” Waterman said.
Questions about horse racing’s doping culture and overbreeding reverberated through the sport after the filly Eight Belles collapsed from two broken front ankles as she galloped past the finish line in second place in the Derby. Larry Jones, her trainer, has adamantly insisted she was not on steroids.