“It’s important not to get stressed, and to stay calm in there while you’re showing,” the boy told the Bellefontaine Examiner. “This lamb was a pretty difficult and stubborn project, but I’m glad I got to show and win with him.”
But the victory was short-lived.
The animal tested positive for a banned substance, according to state officials, so its title was stripped. They said traces of furosemide, a diuretic known by its brand name Lasix, had been found in the lamb.
“It could partially dehydrate the animal to make the muscles feel more solid,” Tony Forshey, Ohio’s state veterinarian, told The Washington Post.
The disclosures drew wide media coverage, focusing attention on the world of youth livestock programs and competitions. The Ohio Department of Agriculture is conducting an investigation into the lamb’s failed test. In the meantime, the Logan County Fair took the title away from the boy, board president Christie Barns told The Post.
At the Logan County Fair, market animals including beef cattle, goats, lambs, hogs, turkeys and rabbits are shown in different weight classes. They are ranked by the quality of meat on their bones: Judges inspect the width of their loins and the thickness of their muscle structure to determine “what kind of meat product it would produce once it is slaughtered and processed,” Barns said. The top five lambs in each weight class are named, and the top two placers compete for the grand champion prize and the reserve champion prize, second place.
All grand and reserve champions are tested before they are sent to the slaughterhouse and sold as meat, per state laws.
“We test them, obviously, to make sure there’s no adulterated product going into the food chain, no drugs in that animal,” Forshey said.
The prizewinning lamb had earned a purse of $3,925, state officials said, but it won’t be paid out.
The world of prize animals is competitive, but officials said failed tests for banned substances are rare. Forshey said the lamb was the first to fail a drug test in three or four years. Barns, the fair board president, said it was the first in her six years on the job.
People were shocked to hear the results, she said.
“Angry that it happened,” she said. “Felt that it was unfortunate that something like this happened to a young man.”