It’s hard to believe we’re only 90 days out from the New Year. On Jan. 1, new changes to the FEI’s drug lists become official. Changes to FEI rules are published 90 days in advance to allow sufficient notice to all athletes and national federations to make any needed adjustments.
Some interesting changes are coming up in 2014. Medications Metformin and Levothyroxine are being added to the controlled medications list. The first is an anti-diabetic drug with legitimate uses but has the potential for welfare risk. The second is a thyroid hormone replacement that can potentially enhance performance. Adrenocorticotropin hormone (ACTH) is moving from the banned substance list to the controlled medication list due to therapeutic value in equine medicine.
Substances taking up residence on the banned substances list are injectable ammonium chloride, Gamma-Butyroactone (GBL) and gamma-hydroxybutyrate (GHB). Injectable ammonium chloride is listed as it can be used to block nerves, while GBL and GHB are listed as having a high potential for abuse to improve athletic performance.
While I’m glad to see the FEI take action and add make additions to the banned substances list, I couldn’t help but find myself wondering where I’d heard about GBL and GHB before. My mind kept calling up clubs and flashing lights rather than some dark mutterings from the hunter/jumper show circuit about what was rumored to go on behind certain barns.
And then I remembered, GBL and GHB are both rave drugs, or more sinisterly used as roofies. Both can easily be lethal, but GBL is also sold as an industrial solvent in some parts of the world, used for removing paint, rust and graffiti.
Seriously, what kind of person thinks “Hey, paint stripper! That’d be a great thing to give a horse!” As a final thought, I find it darkly amusing that the FEI’s 90-day notice rule means these changes were posted hot on the heels of Sheikh Mohammed’s latest doping scandal. Every now and again, I do love me some schadenfreude.