Horse racing world shaken by steroids scandal

The Iwate Prefectural Horse Racing Association (Iwate Keiba) was forced to suspend all races one day last week after drug tests on some race horses turned up evidence of steroids. This was the second incident following a first detection of banned steroids in late July.

It is believed that it has never before occurred in Japanese history that banned drugs forced a suspension of horse races.

The two steroids detections occurred at separate tracks, first at Morioka Racecourse and then at Mizusawa Racecourse, but both facilities are part of the same Iwate Keiba union.

Iwate Keiba issued a statement as follows: “We recognize that this is an extremely serious matter, not only our association, but also for the Japanese horse racing world overall. It could lead to a loss of credibility, greatly disturbing our fans nationwide and other horse racing stakeholders. We deeply apologize.”

As a countermeasure, Iwate Keiba conducted new drug tests on all 733 racehorses that are part of the association, and vowed that only horses testing negative for steroids would be allowed to race. Moreover, a third-party investigation will be conducted to identify the causes and to prevent reoccurrences.

The particular steroid detected in both cases was boldenone.

The immediate economic loss caused by the suspension of the races was estimated at JPY31 million (about $277,000).