American Thoroughbred racehorse California Chrome recently won both the 2014 Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes. While Chrome ultimately failed to become the first Triple Crown winner since 1978, his story has brought heightened attention to the sport of horseracing.
As with any professional sport, cheating is an increasing concern. Horses are often given illegal or dangerous stimulants to increase their performance. Sports doping is a cat-and-mouse game between those who cheat and those who try to catch the cheaters.
The United States Trotting Association has begun a project to develop regulatory controls for the use of cobalt in racehorses. Cobalt chloride increases erythropoietin, a hormone that controls red blood cell production. The substance can increase endurance, and is increasingly being detected in all breeds of racehorses. While cobalt is a naturally occurring essential element, chronic overexposure can cause organ injury, heart failure and death. The USTA is racing to develop testing standards and guidelines before cobalt usage escalates out of control.
Researchers are using an Agilent 8800 Triple-Quadrupole Mass Spectrometer ICP-MS for their testing.
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