On Monday, the Canadian Pari-Mutuel Agency issued a statement regarding its position on the use of cobalt in racehorses.
Given the recent publicity surrounding cobalt, the purpose of this notice is to provide the racing industry with information with respect to the CPMA’s position on this substance.
Cobalt is a naturally occurring, trace element present in all horses at very low levels. It can also be found in several feedstuffs and supplements such as vitamin B12. The CPMA has not tested for cobalt since it is not listed in the Schedule of Drugs in the Pari-Mutuel Betting Supervision Regulations (the Regulations).
Horse racing regulators around the world are investigating allegations that large amounts of cobalt have been administered to racehorses in the belief that they will enhance performance by inducing the production of red blood cells.
As you may be aware, a threshold of 100ng/mL in urine has been proposed by several international regulators and, in the United States, several jurisdictions have implemented thresholds between 25 and 70 ng/mL in blood.
Recently, the CPMA has undertaken a number of research initiatives in regard to the use of cobalt in Canada. We have worked with Maxxam Analytics (our official laboratory), the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA), and the University of Kentucky. The CPMA presented these research findings at the International Conference of Racing Analysts and Veterinarians late last year. The CPMA has also collaborated with other racing jurisdictions and has made considerable progress towards understanding the complexities in controlling the use of this naturally occurring substance.
Effective immediately, the CPMA will begin testing for elevated levels of cobalt in official samples collected at Canadian racetracks however Certificates of Positive Analysis will not be issued by the CPMA until the Regulations have been amended to include cobalt in the Schedule of Drugs. Results of this testing will be used to establish an appropriate threshold in Canada and data will be shared with Provincial Racing Commissions who may wish to initiate more immediate measures to address the use/misuse of this substance.
Cobalt levels may build up over time when given repeatedly and its elimination from the horse can take an extended period of time. As such, owners and trainers should govern themselves accordingly as, once the Regulations are amended, Certificates of Positive Analysis will be issued immediately based upon the established threshold.
At this time, there are no elimination guidelines for therapeutic doses of cobalt or veterinary approved forms of injectable cobalt. However, current knowledge would suggest that under no circumstances should supplementary oral cobalt be given within 48 hours of racing.
As with all medications and supplements, owners and trainers should discuss the use of cobalt supplements with their veterinarian.
Should you have any questions with respect to the contents of the memorandum, please contact the CPMA at 1-800-268-8835, or email at email@example.com.
Here is the full document from the CPMA: 20150216 – Memo to Industry – Cobalt EN FR