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May 28, 2013
Clenbuterol is an excellent respiratory medication, and one that is very widely used and highly valued in the race horse.  Unfortunately, when anabolic steroids were banned a few years ago one of Clenbuterol’s other properties came to the fore.  This would be so called “partitioning” action of Clenbuterol, or its ability to increase muscle and reduce fat in the body.  This anabolic steroid-like property that Clenbuterol has becomes evident when used on a regular basis at relatively high doses rather than just a short seven or eight day regimen to clean up a horse’s airways.
So now we know that banning anabolic steroids has had the unanticipated outcome of making a really useful therapeutic medication now a medication that can now be looked at with a suspicious eye.  So what is a trainer to do?
I would think the answer would be to do what is best for his horse.  If this is the case then what is the withdrawal time for the administration of Clenbuterol to avoid a “positive”?  To get the answer to this question, I checked the RMTC website which is for suggested withdrawal times.  Here is what I found:
If you are racing in Louisiana or Oklahoma, the withdrawal time is 24 hours or one day.
If you are racing in Canada, Kentucky, Minnesota or Pennsylvania then the withdrawal time 72 hours or three days.
For those racing in Iowa, New Jersey, and Ohio the withdrawal time is 96 hours or four days.
For those racing in Florida, Indiana and Virginia the withdrawal time is five days, but Florida states that it is “five days (Commission has a zero tolerance policy).”  So which is it?  Five days or zero tolerance?  It can’t be both, because zero tolerance is impossible to achieve and certainly no withdrawal time could be assigned to it.   The Laboratory’s limit of detection (LOD) would go well beyond five days which would lead to the Regulators playing “Gotcha” with the horsemen trying to follow one of the two (?) withdrawal times.
When I originally began this article on May 1st ,  I printed out the withdrawal times from the RMTC web site.  I am submitting this article on May 8th and the Florida withdrawal time has now been changed from what it was on May 1st to “None.”  I have an unanswered (at this time) email to the Florida Division of Pari-Mutuel where I asked the question about their withdrawal time that is in the preceding paragraph.  Enough said.
Continuing on, we then have four states with a seven day withdrawal time for Clenbuterol which are Delaware, Michigan, Illinois and West Virginia.  Illinois uses the same strategy as Florida by stating the withdrawal time is, “7 days (Commission has a Zero Tolerance policy).”  Much the same is stated for the withdrawal time for West Virginia which states, “Commission has a zero tolerance policy; Dalare Labs has a 7 day withdrawal time.”  Those last two states have given horsemen advice that is as clear as mud.
Fourteen days is apparently the correct withdrawal time for Maryland, New York and Texas.
The withdrawal time for Clenbuterol in Arizona and California is twenty-one days.
Could there possibly be any more states with different rules from the above?
Colorado and Oregon have a 30 day withdrawal time and Colorado’s has that language about the Commission having a zero tolerance policy.  And North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming (they all still have horse racing?) have “Zero Tolerance.”  And lastly, New Mexico’s rule states, “Banned through 4-20-13.”  Don’t know what happens now, but I would assume it’s still banned.
Now to make this more interesting, a lot of these states test for Clenbuterol in urine.  In urine testing, Clenbuterol  has been shown to begin a spike that starts on about the eighth day, peaks on the 10 day and recedes on the eleventh day.  This means that lab tests from horsemen that had withdrawn their horses at five days would have much lower results or levels than those who had withdrawn their horses at 8 to 11 days.  This is why many states test in serum.
And now it seems some laboratory directors, one from the East Coast and one from the West Coast, have been unilaterally attempting to extend the withdrawal times for Clenbuterol.  On the West Coast, the lab director wanted the 25 pg/ml threshold changed to his Limit of Detection (LOD).  On the East Coast, the lab director arbitrarily, and without notification to horsemen, changed the sensitivity of the detection methodology for Clenbuterol, thus supposedly leading to upwards of one hundred positives.
The RMTC Model Rule is for a 14 day withdrawal time with a threshold of 140 pg/ml in urine or the LOD (Limit of Detection) in serum.  This actually makes some sense, because of the unfortunate abuse of Clenbuterol by some.  I would suggest that you check the RMTC’s Withdrawal Times from time to time, even if they are not guaranteed to be accurate in all cases.  Obviously, as you read above some states change them arbitrarily without notice to horsemen.