Standardbred industry partners with USADA lab on blood-doping research


Posted: March 10, 2023

Standardbred industry organizations are partnering with a United States Anti-Doping Agency laboratory to fund research to “seek out legally defensible extraction methodologies” for a variety of modified erythropoietin biosimilars. EPO is a blood-doping agent that can increase stamina and performance.

The United States Trotting Association, in conjunction with the Ohio Harness Horsemen’s Association, Standardbred Breeders and Owners Association of New Jersey, Standardbred Owners Association of New York and Pennsylvania Harness Horsemen’s Association, have agreed to fund the research project with the Sports Medicine Research & Testing Laboratory, which conducts research and testing in the area of human sports for the World Anti-Doping Agency.

USTA Harness Racing Medication Collaborative Chairman Joe Faraldo, who is hopeful that other concerned horsemen’s associations will join in supporting the study, brought the proposal forward from HRMC member Dr. George Maylin, the head of the New York State Drug Testing and Research program.

“The USTA is pleased to be a leader in the forefront of this initiative in equine research,” USTA President Russell Williams said in a release. “The United States Anti-Doping Agency was the original agency the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Authority planned to have administer their anti-doping and medications control program before the two could not come to a financial agreement.”

USADA, which is the official anti-doping organization for all Olympic, Pan American and Parapan American sport in the U.S. and is the administrator of the UFC anti-doping program, utilizes SMRTL to conduct testing.

“For the first time in our study, the Sports Medicine Research & Testing Laboratory will apply its existing science and research to horses,” Williams said. “Harness racing is entering into a comprehensive testing and anti-doping program along with other international, national and professional organizations, including Olympic, collegiate, professional sports leagues, and federal and state departments. The USTA is excited to join in this study that will help us address the issues involved with the use of illicit performance-enhancing drugs in harness racing.”

Faraldo said SMRTL indicated that results are expected within three to six months after the first samples are made available for analysis. Research and testing will be done at the SMRTL lab in Jordan, Utah, and will be conducted by SMRTL President Dr. Daniel Eichner and his associates Dr. Geoffrey D. Miller Dr. Chad Moore.