30 July 2011

Lasix: The Pros And The Cons

The Lasix debate is going strong right now as the Feds in the States are looking to ban race day drugs. The prevailing viewpoint is that drugs do not belong in athletes, and that competition should pit natural talent against natural talent.

Horse racing has always had a seedy side to it. From the use of cocaine at the turn of the last Century to the designer drugs of today, the idea of improving a horse's performance artificially to cash a bet or grab purse money is simply a reality in the game. The question is how prevalent it is.

From many a horseman's perspective, if it isn't on a banned list and/or it isn't tested for, it is legal. And stretching that a bit for some operations, if you can beat a test with little risk, why not go for it?

Horseplayers seem to be in favor of not only banning race day drugs but all performance enhancers.

I'm really not sure why the Feds got involved. They had to have been nudged. Who nudged them? Certainly not an HBPA groups. And why Lasix, and not other drugs that are much more potent even if taken a few days out?

One can Google search forever and still not find definitive results when it comes to concluding whether Lasix is needed or not. In Europe and Hong Kong and other jurisdictions, race day Lasix is not allowed, and reportedly most horses do not train on Lasix. However, there isn't much discussed about what they substitute, if anything, for Lasix, and what happens to most horses who are chronic bleeders. On the other side, most Horsemen in North America state emphatically that without Lasix, the percentage of horses who can not race anymore will be dramatically high.

1. Allegedly, around 5% of race horses most likely need Lasix in order to race. Again, this is a number that is speculated on. Prior to the legalization of Lasix, the amount of horses barred from racing was next to none. However, it is not known what percentage were retired or didn't make it to the races by choice.

2. It levels the playing field. Because Lasix is known to have other enhancement qualities other than preventing EIPH (for instance, it is a bronchodilator, which means it helps all horses breathe better). So, it just isn't fair that if a horse is a known bleeder that they should be the only horses to have the extra performance enhancements that Lasix gives a horse.
Another argument is that consistent use of Lasix causes less erratic form that could arise from heavy bleeding of a horse one race to mild bleeding the next race.
As a side note, when Lasix was first introduced, and only given to real bleeders, it turned out to be quite a handicapping angle. But now that virtually every horse in North America runs on Lasix, the first or second time angle means nothing.

3. If drugs are to be allowed, this is a cheap and powerful way to go.

4. The jury is out, but Lasix could have humane factors in reducing scar tissue by bleeders.

5. The controlled use of Lasix may prevent training outfits from experimenting and using other anti-bleeding medications that may even be more harmful to a horse's system than Lasix allegedly is.

1. It is a performance enhancer. Anything that potentially makes a horse run faster while having the substance in them versus not having the substance in them, in an enhancer. The "running to its potential" line is a pretty weak argument. It doesn't just help prevent bleeding, but also helps non bleeders breathe better, amongst other things as well.

2. It mask other drugs, and clouds tests. I know it, and you know it. Stop the nonsensical denial. Simply Google "Pass a marijuana test lasix"

Lasix: Take an 80 milligram dose of prescription diuretic lasix (furosemide). Prescription diuretics are the most potent. Some over the counter diuretics will color your urine blue and should be avoided. WARNING! -Diuretics can be harmful to people with kidney problems, pregnant women, and diabetics.-

Super Trainers are one of the biggest turn offs horse racing has to offer today. Not only for Horseplayers, but for honest Horsemen and as importantly owners and potential new owners. It is hard to get new blood in the game if you are consistently running for third money. Masking other performance enhancing drugs doesn't help the game at all. Outfits that experiment with drug concoctions leads to erratic performances, and this leads to lack of confidence from Horseplayers.

3. Lasix is a potent diuretic. The side effects are many. The fact that a horse needs an electrolyte jug after competition to replace vital fluids the horse lost from racing on Lasix is cause enough to question using the drug. It might even border on cruelty.

4. The North American breed is allegedly weaker because the best breeding candidates who have been successful on the track raced with Lasix. Would they still be running the same times without Lasix? Probably not in many cases because of the performance enhancement Lasix offers, whether the top horses were helped by bleeding less or breathing better, there is a good likelihood that a heredity weakness is being passed on today versus the pre-Lasix days. And there is the possibility that if Lasix wasn't used, we might see a whole different cast of top horses every year, probably running slightly slower final times collectively, but a much heartier group.

5. There is a correlation between horses starts per year and per life and Lasix usage over the past 15-20 years. Horse are making 2 less starts a year these days on average.
Whether it is a direct correlation, the jury is out again. It could be a combination of Lasix and training strategies, the higher use of other drugs (legal and illegal alike), and/or the the higher frequency of detailing (tapping of joints, etc.) that is being used by more elite and/or high percentage outfits (where horses have the kitchen sink put in them for every infrequent race).

6. Lasix is not used race day in jurisdictions outside Canada and the USA. They seem to get along fine without it. It wasn't used in North America prior to the 80's either, and horse racing seemed to get along fine without it.

7. The elimination of Lasix and other drugs would most likely make it cheaper to own horses (providing they don't really need Lasix to race). Horses may run relatively slower collectively by a few ticks, but that really isn't relevant at all. Cutting the costs of horse ownership would most likely lead to owners having bigger stables, and it would entice newbie owners to enter the game.


Horse racing would probably get along just fine if Lasix were banned on race day. However, Lasix seems to be the whipping boy of a more severe problem, and that is the other performance enhancing drugs and treatments (like EPO, DPO, synthetic venoms, and ITPP) that are being used by cheaters. Getting rid of race day Lasix is only a tiny step in leveling the playing field for bettors and honest horsemen.
Solving the problem requires making an exact list of treatments and allowable drugs, as well as severely fining anyone caught using drugs or treatments not on the list.


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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Seriously. Who is nudging the Feds. Can anyone say PETA? Be careful what you let PETA do behind the scenes. Look at teh greyhound industry. Horse racing is in their gun sights!!!

Also this is a NON-ISSUE. It is like banning steroids in Football players. Are you kidding me. Something else will take its place. I am a big guy and work out daily in the gym and I cant get THAT BIG without some "help". Can anyone say "Lance Armstrong".

In the end this issue is about political bullcrap, care of the horses to a degree (but not by everyone and most importantly people jumping on the band wagon of an issue that is popular AT THE TIME.

IT to will pass!