Commencing mid-August 2013, The Racing Integrity Unit will be posting all TCO2 levels reported by the New Zealand Laboratory Services (NZRLS) to this website.
What is it? TCO2 is the total carbon dioxide level found when equine plasma is tested.
An extensive amount of published scientific research has established that the measurement of plasma total carbon dioxide concentration is a scientifically valid method for detecting the administration of alkalinizing agents to horses.
In recent years, sodium bicarbonate and other alkalinizing agents have been administered to horses with the goal of buffering the decrease in pH or acidosis that occurs with high-intensity exercise. Increased levels of TCO2 affect the pH level of blood, turning it more acidic. This can lead to faltering functions of the heart, damage to the central nervous system and or temporary/ permanent nerve damage.
As a consequence Harness Racing New Zealand (HRNZ) and New Zealand Thoroughbred Racing (NZTR) have prescribed, within their respective rules, levels, which when exceeded are considered a breach of the rules. The threshold level for an offence being committed is 36 millimoles per litre of plasma. There is a margin of error of +/- 1.00 millimole per litre of plasma.