Ontario announces testing for cobalt
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At its meeting on May 28, 2015, the Board of the Ontario Racing Commission (ORC) approved a General Directive ordering that all horses that have been selected to provide an Official Sample (blood) as defined by the Canadian Pari-Mutuel Agency (CPMA) will also be tested for cobalt.
Once the CPMA has completed the official testing, the ORC will subject the samples to enhanced testing for the presence of cobalt.
The Directive states that any sample where Cobalt is detected at a level of 50 ng/ml or more in blood will be deemed to be a violation of the Rules of Standardbred Racing 2012, Rules of Thoroughbred Racing 2012 and the Racing Commission Act 2000. Regulatory action against the owner and/or trainer of the horse includes disqualification of the horse from the race and a return and redistribution of all earnings from that race.
A copy of GENERAL DIRECTIVE NO. 1/2015 is attached here.
In March 2015, as a result of concerns brought forward by the horse racing industry regarding alleged misuse of cobalt, the ORC issued a Notice to the Industry advising that it would begin working to develop a practical and effective plan for the testing for cobalt. This new Directive is in accordance with that consultation with the community.
The ORC believes that the testing is not only a matter related to the integrity of horse racing but more importantly an animal welfare issue. When administered in appropriate quantities, there is likely very little performance benefit to cobalt. And when used in excess, this element can be toxic to horses.