AQHA Announces Zero Tolerance Policy on Clenbuterol

World's largest breed organization takes bold steps to protect horses and racing integrity.

Press Release

AQHA is taking a zero-tolerance policy on clenbuterol.

Faced with continued increases in the number of reported clenbuterol overages in racehorses across the nation, the American Quarter Horse Association is taking steps for the safety and welfare of the horse and rider and is announcing that beginning January 1, 2016, clenbuterol, in any form, is banned from use in any type of American Quarter Horse race. The AQHA Racing Council and AQHA Executive Committee also have established a task force that will develop the Association’s policies and procedures for dealing with individuals who violate the zero-tolerance policy.

“More than a year ago, AQHA announced its Multiple Medication Violation System that became effective last January,” said AQHA President Johnny Trotter. “In that time, we have had 64 clenbuterol overages reported from seven racing jurisdictions and additional alleged overage violations that are awaiting hearings.

“If we are going to level the playing field, protect our horses, riders and the betting public, taking these steps to ban clenbuterol completely and work with every racing jurisdiction is what is best for our industry,” Trotter continued. “We owe it to our fans, our horsemen and, most importantly for the safety and welfare of our horses to ensure our industry not just survives but grows for future generations.”

As for immediate steps to address clenbuterol, the AQHA Racing Council announced that beginning January 15, 2015, any horse that is part of a medication ruling with a clenbuterol overage based upon current, allowed threshold levels of the reporting jurisdiction, the horse, owner and trainer will be penalized immediately under the AQHA MMVS. The council added that any ruling involving clenbuterol will be handled in the same manner as that of a class 1 or 2 medication violation, meaning that the horse will receive a 150-day suspension, the trainer will receive a minimum five-year suspension and the owner will be fined accordingly.

“The misuse of medications at the hands of a few, to the detriment of the many honest people in our industry, is one of the major issues we are dealing with today,” said AQHA Executive Vice President Don Treadway Jr. “We are working in cooperation with industry leaders in an attempt to eradicate this from the racetrack. We are not in the business of defending bad behavior.”

The Association has long supported the Racing Medication and Testing Consortium’s goals and the Association of Racing Commissioners’ model rules and therapeutic medication schedule. Additionally, AQHA acknowledges that clenbuterol, in its FDA-approved form, can be an effective medication to treat certain respiratory issues. However, because of illegal compounding and gross overages, the Association is opting for aggressive action to rid the sport of its use.

“Once the zero-tolerance policy goes into effect, if a horse must absolutely use clenbuterol for a medical issue, we will lose that horse for a period of time from our races,” said Trotter. “Hopefully, the horse will come back at a later date healthy, clean and ready to compete on a fair and level playing field.”

Recently, Los Alamitos Race Course in California, one of American Quarter Horse racing’s largest tracks, announced its zero-tolerance policy regarding clenbuterol. AQHA wants to take a leadership role and establish guidelines, policies and procedures that everyone understands and that are uniform from one locale to the next. More details on AQHA’s action will be released as the newly established task force goes to work on these details in the coming months.

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