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VIC Opens New Cobalt Laboratory
The war on cobalt received a timely boost yesterday when Victorian Racing Minister Martin Pakula officially launched the state's first dedicated cobalt-testing facility at Flemington, reports Racing.com. At a cost of $350,000, the laboratory at Racing Analytical Services Ltd (RASL) is equipped with specialist instrumentation capable of testing blood and urine samples from horses and greyhounds for cobalt and other metals. Cobalt is a naturally occurring trace element which may normally be detected in horses at very low levels from their feed. It has similar effects on humans as the banned drug EPO which is known for boosting stamina. There has been a crackdown on the use of cobalt in the Australian racing industry over the last 12 months with a national threshold of 200 micrograms per litre of urine introduced across the country in January. "This dedicated cobalt-testing facility demonstrates the Andrews Labor Government's commitment to upholding the highest standards of integrity in our racing industry," said Minister Pakula. "Victoria now has the capacity to test all racing samples for cobalt in-house, making us a global leader in the fight against performance-enhancing substances." David Batty, Laboratory Director at Racing Analytical Services Ltd, said he is appreciative of the funding support that has been provided to help fight the rising spectre of cobalt in the industry. "The introduction of ICP-MS technology to Racing Analytical Services Ltd has been made possible due to a collaborative funding agreement between the Victorian Racing Industry, RASL and the Victorian Government," said Batty. "All blood and urine samples submitted for analysis by the three racing codes will now be screened for a range of inorganic metals, including cobalt." He added: "Due to this initiative, the integrity of Victorian Racing will be further enhanced."