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Latest horse racing scandal shows PEDs are still a thing, and baseball should pay attention, too

Latest horse racing scandal shows PEDs are still a thing, and baseball should pay attention, too
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I have long been an advocate and fan of horse racing. My love for the sport goes back decades, and I am still very much involved with racing. So when the news broke on Monday that the FBI had charged 27 people in an elaborate doping scheme designed to enhance the performance of race horses, my reaction was two-fold.

1) Embarrassment for the sport I have invested so much in over the years.

2) Happy to see these scumbags caught.

Rough year

Of course, pundits are already weighing in. And they should. Horse racing has been in the cross hairs for all the wrong reasons in the past year. The horse deaths at Santa Anita. The disqualification in the Derby. The shocking news that Justify should have never been allowed in the Triple Crown races.

Now this. And most people react with a collective yawn. Cheating in horse racing? Who knew? A baseball sign stealing scandal becomes national news and is over-reported to death. But where is the outrage for this?

PEDs are nothing new

When baseball's PED scandal exploded, lost was a simple fact: Performance enhancing started with horse racing. It then moved on to human athletic endeavors. When it became public, baseball players went before Congress; no one raised an eyebrow at horse racing.

And it is well past time we should. Both sports have checkered pasts. Would it shock anyone that they are using new PEDs that can't be detected?

The latest scandal

If the FBI is to be believed - and they reportedly have multiple phone conversations recorded - several trainers, including Jason Servis, trainer of 3-year-old champ and recent winner of the $20 million Saudi Cup, Maximum Security - were using a substance called SGF-1000.

The PED is "intended to promote tissue repair and increase a racehorse's stamina and endurance beyond its natural capability."

While racing has tests for many drugs, SGF-1000 is not one of them. One of the veterinarians indicted was caught on tape saying "They don't even have a test for it … there's no test for it in America."

While everyone is innocent until proven guilty, if the tapes are to be believed, this group of people will have a hard time selling a not guilty verdict.

And there's more

Forget the fraud perpetrated on the betting public - we will get to that - the dangers to the horses are obvious. There were drugs that enhanced blood cell counts, and even snake venom was used to dull pain. In essence, it allowed injured horses to run. And yet the world is shocked when there are horse deaths on the track. Don't think these things aren't related.

In addition, it's always suspicious when a trainer starts taking horses from other trainers and immediately improves their performance. It is extremely common, and Servis is one of those. It is also unfair to the trainers who are not cheating.

Long history

Like baseball, horse racing has a long history of pushing the limits to get an edge. Many riders have used "buzzers," shocking devices to make the horses run faster. Some have fed horses edible marijuana for soreness. And if you hang around the track long enough, you will hear all kinds of stories. Some are pure fantasy; but there are enough cases that almost anything is believable. And if you think it is just the people caught on tape by the FBI, think again. It is widespread, as common as steroid use was in baseball. And it needs to stop.

Many suffer

At its purest, horse racing is a beautiful sport, with equine athletes combining with human athletes in the most authentic of competitions. There are trainers and people connected to the horses who love the animals who make their livelihood, and treat them better than children. But then there are the quick-buck artists who are looking for big paydays; con men and women who are only out for money. They exist in every walk of life, but when they encroach on racing and endanger an animal, they cross the line. They make millions of dollars off of these creatures and squeeze out every penny they can get with no regard for the horses or betting public. These people need to be weeded out of the sport. Monday's arrests should be just the start.

The forgotten group

As someone who bets on the races, this behavior is unacceptable beyond the danger to the animals we all love. They are committing fraud against the horseplayer. Our group is the most under appreciated in racing. Without people betting on the races, there would be no horse racing. Yet the player has little voice. Some tracks actually cater to the player (Sam Houston and Santa Anita among them) but most simply don't care. The criminal element in the sport clearly doesn't care about us, either. And without us, you don't exist. It's way past time somebody recognized that.

Racing needs to take a hard look at itself and clean this up immediately. But will it? Probably not. The reality is that none of these scandals ever brings change.

And that frankly sucks, because there are good people in the sport, and there are those of us who love to bet and watch the athletes at their best.

As horseplayers, we want two simple things: An honest race to bet on and safety for the animals and jockeys that ride them. There are more people who think like that than there are cheaters and criminals, but the latter group is too big, and something needs to be done.

Back to baseball

The scary part is, if there are PEDs that aren't tested for in horse racing, then should we not assume they have trickled into baseball and other sports again, like they did in the first place? Are we buying the "juiced ball" theories again? The big difference is when a baseball player does it, it is his choice, and the damage he does is self-inflicted.

The horses do not have that choice, because these scumbags made it for them.

As a fan of the sport, I am embarrassed. But I am glad they got caught. And I hope they get everyone else who is doing it as well, so we get an honest and fair run for our money from athletes whose lives are not being unnecessarily put at risk.

And I hope this tip of the iceberg does not extend to other sports. Because it certainly has before.

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British Brooks could bring some thump to the running game. Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images.

The Houston Texans entered the NFL Draft knowing they had several options at the running back position with Joe Mixon, Dameon Pierce, and Dare Ogunbowale.

So it wasn't a surprise to learn they only drafted one running back, Jawhar Jordan, and they waited until the sixth-round to do so. But as all Texans fans know, you can find a diamond in the rough at this position that goes undrafted from time to time.

Arian Foster, the best running back in Houston's franchise history, went undrafted. To be clear, we're not comparing North Carolina RB British Brooks to Foster. But he does have some traits that could play at the next level, and he possesses some qualities that the Texans covet.

He was a team captain at North Carolina, he has great size at 5'11 225 pounds, and the dude loves to play special teams (he's a two-time special teams MVP). Plus, he plays a position that adapts quickly to the NFL. And when comparing him to Jordan, two things really stick out, size and power. Jordan weighed in at 193 pounds at the combine, running a 4.56 forty. Not exactly the speed you would expect from a back well under 200 pounds.

How much production did Brooks have at UNC?

When you look at his resume, it's no surprise that he went undrafted. He played 5 seasons for the Tar Heels, dealt with injuries, and never recorded a 1,000 yard season. Brooks was slated to lead North Carolina's running back room in 2022, but a leg injury derailed his season.

Head coach Mack Brown had some very positive things to say about the player. Per 247 Sports Inside Carolina:

"(Brooks) is one of the best leaders on our team," UNC head coach Mack Brown said after Brooks' decision to return. "He's an amazing story of a walk-on, who gets himself into school and he's a tremendous student, and then he's special teams Player of the (Week) all the time. We tried to take him out of the game on special teams (vs. N.C. State) and he absolutely refused, because he was playing so much in the game at running back, and he would not come off."

We know the Texans pride themselves on special teams, so perhaps that can be an avenue for Brooks to make the team. And after that, who knows? Maybe the Texans could use his bruising body in goal line situations down the road.

Be sure to watch the video above as Chris from Sports Talk Extra shares his thoughts on the Texans' intriguing signing at running back, and much more! You can watch his highlights below.

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