updated 3/24/2005 8:51:00 PM ET 2005-03-25T01:51:00

Cows that lock horns in an annual test of strength in the Swiss Alps must face renewed doping tests, authorities have decided.

"There are controls for racehorses and dogs, and there's no reason to do it differently for cows," Joseph Jaeger, chief veterinarian in the Valais state, said Thursday.

Valais' annual cow-fighting contest — known as "The Combat of the Queens" — pits powerfully built, black-hided animals from the Swiss Val d'Herens breed against each other.

The grand final and earlier heats draw about 50,000 spectators, and a victory can add tens of thousands of dollars to a cow's value.

Now officials will restart the controls, halted in 2002 after six years of nothing but negative tests, Jaeger said.

Cow fighting, which began in Valais in 1922, is based on the natural struggle between cows for dominance of the herd as they leave their winter stables and head to the Alpine pastures in the spring.

During the largely bloodless fights, each cow tries to force the other to submit, using its head and horns. The contests often end without any physical contact between either cow, when one of the animals recognizes the superiority of the other.

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