01/31/2002 1:00AM

California OK's trace clenbuterol


ARCADIA, Calif. - Clenbuterol, a bronchial dilator used to treat horses with breathing problems, has received regulatory approval to appear in postrace tests at trace level in California.

On Wednesday, the state office of administrative law approved the regulatory language that was adopted in November by the California Horse Racing Board.

The CHRB then notified the horse racing community that clenbuterol is allowed to appear in postrace tests at a level not to exceed five nanograms per milliliter of urine. Previously, clenbuterol was not allowed to appear at any level in postrace tests.

According to studies conducted by scientists at the University of California at Davis, clenbuterol cannot affect athletic performance of a horse at the five-nanogram level. Recent studies indicate that clenbuterol should not be administered within four days of a race to avoid exceeding the five-nanogram level.

In recent years, horsemen have been forced to stop using clenbuterol as many as three weeks before a race to avoid a positive test. There have been instances of horses not being entered because the drug was administered too close to race time.

Approved for use in horses by the Food and Drug Administration in 1998, clenbuterol has been a controversial medication in recent years. It appeared in several postrace tests during that summer, resulting in fines and suspensions for trainers.