07/16/2008 11:00PM

California raises steroid class

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The California Horse Racing Board voted to enact stronger penalties for anabolic steroid positives in racehorses at its monthly meeting on Thursday.

The new rules are expected to take effect by the first of September, and possibly sooner, pending a review by the state's office of administrative law and secretary of state, according to racing board staff.

The racing board voted to reclassify penalties for excessive use of boldenone, nandrolone, stanozolol, and testosterone from Class 4 to Class 3 and to strengthen penalties for positives for those steroids. The four steroids will be allowed to appear at low levels in postrace tests.

With the classifications raised to Class 3, positive tests will result in the redistribution of purses and possible fines for trainers.

Currently, trainers are being sent notices for horses that test positive for steroids, but face no sanctions. In coming weeks, trainers will be given official warnings for positives that will appear on their permanent records and could be a factor in future sanctions, according to the racing board's equine medical director, Dr. Rick Arthur.

Arthur told the racing board on Thursday that there were 27 instances of horses testing positive for stanozolol since testing began on July 1. He said that 347 samples were tested and that notices were sent to the trainers involved.

In the last year, the racing board has stated it wants steroid penalties in effect before the Breeders' Cup is run at the Oak Tree at Santa Anita meeting on Oct. 24-25.- Steve Andersen