The swine, cattle and sheep grand and reserve grand champions are tested for any type of doping enhancements, aspirin included, said Bill Fox, the fair’s in-house veterinarian.
Several hairs and urine samples from each of the winners pass through a detection program that is considered “as sophisticated as testing on human athletes” to ensure a sanitary meat market.
“The program deters the enhancement of show animals … because (their) auctions bring in big money,” said Fox, who sent the Junior Fair lambs’ tests out Tuesday to a lab in Columbus.
Fox estimated that market animals that normally sell for $400 can be auctioned for about $8,000 after winning at the fair.
That kind of money, he said, could inspire contestants to use drugs to bulk up their animals. That misleads buyers to think the animals will offer more yield when slaughtered and therefore pay more for the livestock.
“The rules are just so there’s no cheating,” he said.
Fox said positive tests are rare and he can recall only one instance when a Lorain County Fair champion came back positive, but testing on the carcass confirmed its falsehood.
“Over all the Ohio fairs, one to two normally get caught tampering,” said Fox.