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Jul 10, 2012 7:16 PM by Jenise Fernandez

Racehorses in Louisiana Testing Positive for a Performance-Enhancing Drug

Almost a dozen racehorses in Louisiana tested positive for a powerful performance-enhancing drug.Three of those horses raced at Evangeline Downs as recently as two months ago. Two of those horses belong to trainer Anthony Agilar and the other owned by Kyi Lormand. Both have been suspended for six months. The Louisiana racing commission has now launched a full investigation.

That drug is dermorphin, it's 40 times more powerful than morphine. It's causing horses to run faster without feeling pain. Because of it's performance enhancing abilities, it's considered one of the industry's most severe drug violations.

"It has a powerful affect on performance it's a drug that has no place in racing," said Charlie Gardiner, Executive Director of the Louisiana Racing Commission.

"A horse may out perform its normal expected pace in a race and the betting public is defrauded," said Dr. Steven Barker.

Dermorphin is found on the skin of a South American frog. LSU researcher Dr. Steven Barker says the drug is being administered illegally.

"We think it's synthetic because it would take a lot of frogs to gather up enough of this drug to be used in the way it's being used," said Dr. Barker.

It's hard to know how often it's being used because many states don't have the capability to test for it. So far, Louisiana, Oklahoma and New Mexico have horses that tested positive.

"Little did anyone expect something like this to surface. it doesn't do anything at all to help racing when a drug of this nature is discovered," said Gardiner.

We spoke to trainers Kyi Lormand and anthony Agilar about these allegations. Both had similar stories. They say, their vet told them it was a natural herb that would boost the horse's energy. Lormand and Agilar say, they had no idea how serious it was.
Lormand says, "I didn't know. If any one of us would have known, we wouldn't have done it."
Agilar says, "If i can't trust my vet, who can i trust?"

For this type of violation, Louisiana racing rules recommend a suspension of one to five years, plus a $5,000 fine. The racing commission will begin hearings at the end of the month.

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