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Arc favorite Deep fails dope test

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TOKYO, Japan -- Japan's Arc de Triomphe favorite Deep Impact has tested positive for a banned substance after finishing third in the race this month, officials have said.

Traces of ipratropium, an inhaled medication that aids breathing, were detected in the horse's urine samples following tests carried out after the October 1 event in Paris.

Both Deep Impact's A and B samples tested positive for ipratropium, which is not on Japan's list of banned substances.

Japan Racing Association director of stewards. Hiroyuki Kaneda told reporters: "We were informed by France-Galop on October 13.

"We will wait to see what punishment is given by France-Galop before deciding what further steps -- if any -- we will take."

Deep Impact had previously undergone treatment for respiratory problems but his handlers were aware that ipratropium was banned in Europe, JRA officials said.

"We weren't aware Deep Impact had anything as serious as asthma but we know he had treatment for his breathing," the JRA's equine director Keiji Nishimura said.

"We don't know what the punishment will be but the horse's pre-race treatment is a matter for his owner and trainer."

Ipratropium is a bronchodilator used to prevent wheezing, shortness of breath, and asthma-related breathing difficulties.

Deep Impact's owner Masato Kaneko announced last week that Deep Impact would retire this year.

The Japanese Triple Crown winner was widely considered the best horse in the country's racing history.

Around 5,000 Japanese race fans sparked a betting frenzy in Paris but Deep Impact narrowly failed to live up to his billing as favorite under jockey Yutaka Take.

The four-year-old colt had won 10 of 11 starts in Japan and had been heavily tipped to become the first non-European horse to win the Arc.

"I can't believe the horse tested positive for banned substances," trainer Yasuo Ikee was quoted by Japanese media. "It's a shock."

JRA chief executive Masayuki Takahashi said:"It's a huge shame that this has left a stain on the one of the greatest races in the world. "We will make every effort to improve awareness on doping violations in the future."

Deep Impact was widely rated as Japan's all-time best racehorse.

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