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Animal Doping Common at Youth Livestock Competitions


November 1995

The Food and Drug Administration and state officials are growing more concerned about the use of steroids and other growth drugs in animals exhibited and sold at youth livestock shows (Associated Press, "Junior Livestock Shows Feeling Taint of Cheating," New York Times, August 21, 1995, p. A9).

Last year, steroids and other drugs were found to have been used in as many as a dozen prize-winning animals across the country. Officials are not only worried about cheating at the shows, but are concerned that meat from the treated animals will harm humans. Use of clenbuterol, one of the most common animal doping drugs, has been blamed for deaths in Europe, and there is a current federal investigation of contaminated veal in the U.S. The FDA is working on new tests to detect such drug use in show animals.

Ryan Rash, a 16-year-old from Crockett, Texas, won first place at the National Western Stock Show and earned $37,500 from the auction of his black steer named Badger. Days later, officials had banned Ryan from competition for life and took his prize and money away. Ryan and his parents John and Cherie Carrabba admitted feeding Badger clenbuterol.

10-year-old Jessica McEldowney was banned for life from the Ohio State Fair after her father Scott admitted to giving clenbuterol to her steer, Barney. Jessica was also forced to give back the $4,000 she earned at auction. Scott McEldowney said that about 30% of all show participants use illegal doping to improve their entries. It is impossible to compete without the use of drugs, he said. Officials at that fair discovered that seven other participants had given the drug to their animals or had injected oil under the animals' skin to improve their appearance.

10 people have been convicted in Ohio of giving the drug to animals or participating in distribution of drugs for that purpose, and cases are pending in Wisconsin and Iowa. The drug is often smuggled into the U.S. through Canada.