What is betamethasone?
10th May 2021

BETAMETHASONE is making headlines thanks to Kentucky Derby winner Medina Spirit.

On May 8, 2021, horse trainer Bob Baffert confirmed that the winning horse tested positive for the presence of the drug.

What is betamethasone?

Classified as a man-made corticosteroid meant to suppress inflammation, betamethasone is used on humans and other animals.

Typically, the corticosteroid — similar to prednisone — is used to treat diseases like eczema and some autoimmune disorders.

It is available in a cream, a pill, and an injectable solution, and is available without a prescription.

And according to the World Health Organization, it is considered an "essential medicine."

Why is betamethasone causing controversy in the Kentucky Derby?

While betamethasone is considered an "acceptable medication" to use in the Kentucky Derby, its use is highly regulated.

In the summer of 2020, the Kentucky Derby's rules were updated, and the board demanded that competing horses stop using all corticosteroids for 14 days prior to competing in the race.

The current betamethasone threshold is 10 picograms.

Medina Spirit's finding was at 21 picograms.

What is the penalty for betamethasone use?

If a horse tests positive for betamethasone use that's above the allowed threshold, the trainer could get a $1,000 fine for his first offense.

Subsequent offenses call for higher penalties, suspension, and even disqualification.

Medina Spirit runs the risk of losing her earned Kentucky Derby purse.

This is not Bob Baffert's first offense

Bob Baffert claims he didn't give betamethasone to Medina Spirit.

But this isn't his first rodeo.

In 2020, Baffert's horse Gamine tested positive for betamethasone after placing third in the Longines Kentucky Oaks.

An attorney for Baffert claimed that Gamine received the drug 18 days before the Oaks.

Gamine was disqualified, placed last in the Longines Kentucky Oaks, and Baffert was hit with a $1,500 fine.

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