New clenbuterol restrictions to take effect March 1

A regulation that greatly restricts use of the bronchodilator clenbuterol in racing and training will take effect March 1, according to the Maryland Racing Commission, which approved it in late 2020.

The regulation stemmed from the Mid-Atlantic Strategic Plan, a document designed to enhance the health, safety and welfare of racehorses. Other states in the region are in the process of adopting the new clenbuterol language.

As of March 1, clenbuterol will not have a permissive threshold, MRC Executive Director Mike Hopkins said. The presence of the substance in a blood or urine sample—at any detectable level—will constitute a violation. A horse found with clenbuterol in its system will be disqualified and the trainer subject to disciplinary action.

The Racing Medication and Testing Consortium has recommended that clenbuterol not be administered to a horse within 28 days of a race at a minimum.

Because clenbuterol is recognized as a therapeutic medication, the regulation allows for its use if the following conditions are met:

a. The prescription for clenbuterol is made for a specific horse based upon a specific diagnosis. The prescription and volume dispensed cannot exceed a treatment period of 30 days.

b. The veterinarian must provide a copy of the prescription and diagnosis to the Equine Medical Director for review and approval. The horse may not receive clenbuterol before this approval is issued.

c. Trainers must make daily notification to the official veterinarian of horse(s) in their custody having been administered clenbuterol. Notification shall be made on a form and by a deadline designated by the Maryland Racing Commission.

d. A horse administered clenbuterol shall be placed on the official veterinarian's list. The horse must meet all conditions for removal from the list including a timed workout and blood and urine sampling. Both samples must have no detectable clenbuterol.

e. A horse may not enter to race until it has completed all the requirements in subdivision (d).

2. If a clenbuterol is detected in a horse's post-race or out-of-competition sample and appropriate notification as outlined in subdivision 1(a) or (b) was not completed, the horse shall immediately be placed on the official veterinarian's list pending the outcome of an investigation. The horse shall be required to meet all conditions for removal from the veterinarian's list outlined in subdivision 1(d), above.

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