Horse Racing's New Scandal: 'Frog Juice'

New testing discovers use of illegal painkiller

By John Johnson,  Newser Staff

Posted Jun 19, 2012 6:38 PM CDT | Updated Jun 23, 2012 1:02 PM CDT

(Newser) – Horse racing fans can expect to hear a lot soon about a small South American critter commonly known as a waxy monkey tree frog. It seems the frog's skin produces a powerful substance called dermorphin that masks pain and helps horses run faster, explains the New York Times. In recent weeks, more than 30 horses in Louisiana, Oklahoma, New Mexico, and probably Texas have tested positive for the illegal substance, and a slew of charges against trainers are expected soon. By now, the substance is probably being produced synthetically.

“We hear about some pretty exotic stuff,” says a professor at a testing lab at Louisiana State University. “Frog juice—this is exotic.” The New Orleans Times-Picayune first reported on the substance in its home state, and the same professor called the painkiller "far more potent than morphine," adding this diatribe: “This puts the horse’s life in danger. It puts the jockey’s life in danger. This is an attempt to cheat. This is bad stuff. This is doping.”

A South American frog plays a central role in horse racing's newest trouble.
A South American frog plays a central role in horse racing's newest trouble.   (Getty Images)
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