CHRB Advisory Warns 'EPO'-Labelled Supplement Contains Caffeine

Dr. Jeff Blea | AAEP


In an advisory issued to trainers just before Christmas, the California Horse Racing Board (CHRB) warned that caffeine had been detected in two supplements marketed to performance horses analyzed by the Maddy Equine Analytical Chemistry Lab at UC Davis.

“As such, Horsemen are advised to exercise extreme caution when using these products in close proximity to a race,” the advisory states.

Under the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act (HISA), caffeine is a Class B controlled substance, which comes with a possible 15-day suspension and $1,000 fine for a first offense.

The advisory shows pictures of two tubs of substances broadly labelled “EPO-Equine,” each labelled to sell for $525. EPO is the shortened version of Erythropoietin, a type of protein called a growth factor.

EPO stimulates the bone marrow to make red blood cells, which contain a protein called haemoglobin that carries oxygen around the body. As such, EPO is widely known as a performance enhancing substance.

When asked if EPO had also been detected in the two substances, CHRB equine medical director, Jeff Blea, simply said that “just caffeine” was detected.

The two substances, said Blea, were found during a barn search conducted at Los Alamitos. “It was not related to a caffeine positive,” he said, declining to say whose barn was searched.

“This one I think has been around for a long time,” said Blea, about the “EPO-Equine” product. “The caution is, be careful what you're giving your horses.”

When asked about the suggestive labelling, Blea said that he had called and emailed the company but didn't receive a response.

“It's all about marketing, right?” said Blea. “They're trying to sell a product.”

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