Horsemen: Harsh Penalties for Dermorphin

There were about 30 positives for the morphine-like drug in the Southwest.

The National Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association and its affiliates said they have “zero tolerance” for trainers who use illegal Class 1 and Class 2 substances in racehorses in the wake of about 30 positives for the pain-killer Dermorphin in the Southwest.

The substance, fluid from certain South American frogs, was discovered in tests at Industrial Laboratories in Colorado and later used by the Louisiana State University equine drug-testing laboratory. Dermorphin is related to morphine; it can kill pain, stimulate running, and suppress the feeling of exhaustion after exercise, the National HBPA said in a June 21 release on the topic.

“Dermorphin is doping,” National HBPA chief executive officer Phil Hanrahan said. “Those who use Dermorphin should be severely punished.”

The substances found in the tests are believed to be synthetic variations. National HBPA officials said Dermorphin, ranked a Class 1 drug by the Association of Racing Commissioners International, is reportedly administered just before post time in order to trigger “opiate-like effects.”

In its release the horsemen’s group cited RCI data that shows 99.26% of about 300,000 post-race drug tests from 2009-11 came back negative for “evidence of drug or medication use.” In addition, less than three one-hundredths of 1% of the tests found illegal substances.