07/23/2008 11:00PM

California closing in on steroids

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DEL MAR, Calif. - The California Horse Racing Board will begin issuing warnings Aug. 1 to trainers whose horses test in excess of the permitted level of anabolic steroids, the board announced on Wednesday.

The warnings, which carry no financial penalty or suspension, are the precursor to stronger penalties expected to take effect in September, said the racing board's equine medical director, Rick Arthur. These penalties will result in the loss of purse and possible fines and/or suspensions against trainers for excessive use of the only four anabolic steroids allowed to appear in post-race tests - boldenone, nandrolone, stanozolol and testosterone.

Since July 1, the racing board has issued notices to trainers informing them of steroid overages. The notices are not part of a trainer's permanent record, but a warning would stay on a trainer's record and could result in stronger penalties in the event of further overages. Trainers given a warning will have a right to a split sample test and a hearing before the stewards.

The racing board's chairman, Richard Shapiro, said in a statement, "The administration of all anabolic steroids to horses in competition must stop immediately. Complaints will be issued. The hammer is coming down."

The racing board enacted a rule change on July 17 making excessive use of steroids a Class 3 penalty, subject to a redistribution of purses and a possible penalty against a trainer.

Stanozolol will be allowed in levels up to one nanogram per milliliter of urine. Nandrolone will be allowed to one nanogram for geldings and for fillies and mares, and 45 nanograms for entire males. Boldenone will be permitted up to 15 nanograms in entire males. The rules for testosterone are more complex - 20 nanograms in geldings, and 55 nanograms for fillies and mares. Testosterone is allowed at any level in entire males.

Boldenone, nandrolone, and testosterone can appear naturally in horses.