03/25/2004 1:00AM

Arizona increases drug testing


The Arizona Department of Racing has begun testing for the practice known as "milkshaking," the administration of a sodium bicarbonate mixture to a horse's stomach through a tube. The state's drug-testing program also has increased from 15 to 25 the number of prohibited substances for which it will test, and will test more horses on a daily basis.

The Ohio State University Analytical Toxicology Laboratory will conduct the milkshake tests on an experimental basis for six months. The sodium bicarbonate mixture, thought to increase performance, is screened by measuring a horse's carbon dioxide level.

The increased number of enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay tests, known as ELISA tests, are designed "to increase the likelihood of detecting new substances and those with low levels of certain substances," according to a department memo sent to the Arizona Racing Commission.

The department also increased the minimum number of horses to be tested each day from nine to 12. Random testing for erythropoietin, or EPO, a hormone that enhances red blood cell production, will continue.