A syringe full of the banned doping substance EPO found in an Ashburton racing stable last week is unlikely to be the only one in circulation in the country, says Racing Integrity Unit chief Mike Godber.

The unit was handed an unused syringe of Neorecormon containing erythropoietin (EPO) by a trainer last Friday and an investigation is under way to find out where the substance came from.

"We'll be looking and trying to identify if there is more of it, but you wouldn't think it would be totally isolated.

"This inquiry could take time because we need to talk to all of those involved and it's likely some won't be that forthcoming," Mr Godber said.


The EPO find is the first of the banned substance in New Zealand. The drug is at the high end of the banned substance list. It boosts red blood cell production in the body enabling a horse to perform at a higher level.

The product found was designed for human use in people with kidney illness or undergoing chemotherapy.

If EPO had been administered to a horse it would show in blood and urine samples for only a few days but its effects would be much longer lasting, Mr Godber said.

The racing industry across all three codes, took a hard line on drug use with a high testing regime. Each year about 14,000 tests were carried out compared with about 1500 on athletes across all sporting codes, he said.