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The sad reality is that any time money is involved there will be people who try to cheat. Even in horse race betting people try to cheat the system. Horse racing has evolved over the years to lessen the ability for dishonesty and there’s  number of safeguards built into the industry to protect the horses and the bettors.


Why doping?

Drug testing before races is commonplace. These are run on both horses and jockeys alike. The latest big scandal to hit the horse racing community is “doping”. This can involve a number of different drugs, all intended to unfairly enhance the horse’s abilities. This type of cheating greatly impacts horse race betting as bettors rely on the accuracy of the horse’s statistics to make decisions on who to wager on. Besides the fairness involved, cheating in this manner can be physically devastating to the horses and is considered cruel.

Common Drugs

Steroids and Corticosteroids- There are a number of legitimate uses for steroids in medicine. NSAIDS are no Just the use of steroids alone is not necessarily cheating, as they can be beneficial when used conservatively and under the advisement of a qualified veterinarian. They do take time to metabolize out of a horses’ system so a minute amount in their bloodstream does not necessarily mean that the trainer was attempting to cheat. In the best case scenario the horse simply took longer than expected to metabolize the last trace amounts from their system. However because of the abuse of different types of steriods, many tracks have outright banned their use.

Anabolic Steroids – This type of steroid is very well known. Designed to encourage the growth of muscles, this steroid is taken by athletes of all types to “bulk up”. These steroids are banned in many sports, racetracks, and competitions. Anabolic steroids greatly damage the horse racing industry because of how damaging the abuse of anabolic steroids are. There’s a number of horses who have broken down or have had fatal injuries during and after races because of the toll anabolic steroids take on their bodies. Some trainers will openly admit to injecting their horses with steroids regardless of popular opinion


Analgesics – A life of hard running is sure to cause pain now and then, so the use of pain relievers in horses is not necessarily a bad thing. Relief of pain or sore muscles can be greatly beneficial to the healing process. Race horses are extremely expensive to buy and maintain, so owners want their horses to have as little ‘down’ time as possible. They can only make money when they are racing. However, long term use can be devastating to a horse’s kidneys and stomach. Pain relief may not seem like cheating, but some unethical trainers will drug up a horse who is not fully healed enough to race, or a horse who would otherwise be considered unsound in order to continue racing them.

Why does this matter?

Doping in horse racing may be devastating to the horse’s health, but it can be outright cruel when it’s used to race a horse who would otherwise be unready or unable to race. The controversy surrounding this is huge. Trainers caught cheating can face very hefty fines. Doping also greatly impacts horse race betting as it can skew the results of the race, as well as discourage public faith in the fairness of the sport. The less people trust the sport the less likely they are to watch and wager on it.