BY DEANNA BUSCHERT
For the first time in Canada, drug testing has made its way to the sport of barrel racing. Last November, Canada’s Lindsay Sears stated the need for proper drug enforcement in the sport to the Calgary Herald and the Edmonton Journal. At that time the Women’s Professional Barrel Racing Association (WPRA), had presented an extensive policy to its members in October of 2012, but were stalling at actually implementing these rules.
On July 9th, at the Calgary Stampede, shortly after the first barrel racing performance of Pool B, Sears was escorted to the sidelines to participate in the controversial WPRA drug testing process.
After having her bay gelding Moe tested, Sears said she did hear rumors of testing earlier in the day.
“I heard they did it in the first group,” said Sears. “I didn’t know they were here until this morning.”
So far the WPRA’s behind the scenes testing, is a discrete random process.
“As soon as you are done running, somebody escorts you with your horse – so that nothing has been administered between your run and your test.\”
Sears said she did not know until after her run, that she was going to be pulled aside.
Despite the fact that the WPRA is finally cracking down on its own policies, Sears said she is only somewhat satisfied with the whole process.
“I think it is necessary for our sport. The problem with drug testing is that there are a lot of tests. In my opinion the NSAIDs drugs (Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs), are not the problem and that is what they are mainly testing for.”
These NSAIDs drugs such as Bute and Banamine, Sears noted, are like taking a Tylenol for a headache.
“I think the Class 3 drugs are the issue.”
Class 3 drugs which are outlined in the WPRA Drug Rules and Guidelines include non-therapeutic, autonomic nervous system stimulants and anabolic and (or) androgenic steroids.
“We are no different than horse racing. They need to tailor the drug testing to our sport. If the WPRA would do that, I am okay with it. But if they make us abide by jumping rules, I don’t think that is fair, because our sport is different. Our horses need different things than a jumper or a cutter.”
A professional barrel horse, Sears points out spends a lot of time on the road-hauling from rodeo to rodeo.
“The problem with these horses is the trailering. Some people think it is the runs that are hard on them. It’s not. It’s the miles they go, that are hard on them.”
Is this drug testing process now beneficial for barrel racing?
“I think it is necessary in order for our sport to go forward. We are like every other equine sport that is having to do it. I don’t think we are much different. Whether you like it or not, the public really likes it and it makes them feel better about it.”
Sears smiled and looked back at her horses.
“If the WPRA were to do it correctly, it would be a good thing.”