The United States Equestrian Federation is getting serious about drug violations. In February, the association announced any product containing gama aminobutyric acid (GABA) is deemed a forbidden substance under USEF Rules. GABA is an inhibitory neurotransmitter and is a principal ingredient of “Carolina Gold.”
There are no recognized medical uses for the substance, so the use of a Medication Report Form to report its administration is not applicable under USEF rules. Currently, GABA positives have been detected and are pending enforcement through the USEF’s Regulations Department for adjudication by the USEF Hearing Committee.
Trainers and veterinarians involved in the sale or use of the product could also be fined or suspended. The product is utilized by some for its known calming effect.
GABA was also added to the FEI Equine Prohibited Substances List as a Banned Substance. Its presence in any equine sample would be a violation under the Equine Anti-Doping Rules. Individuals considered “Persons Responsible” for using a banned substance could receive a two year suspension and up to a $15,000 fine as first time offenders. Repeat offenders will be penalized more severely according to the USEF.