08/08/2008 12:00AM

California sets steroid ban date


The California Horse Racing Board will enact severe penalties for excessive use of four anabolic steroids beginning with races run on Sept. 4, the board announced on Thursday.

The four anabolic steroids - boldenone, nandrolone, stanozolol and testosterone - the only steroids allowed to appear in postrace tests, will be allowed to appear at minute levels. The four steroids have been reclassified as Class 3 violations, from Class 4. Under the new rules, excessive levels of those steroids will result in the loss of a purse and a possible fine and/or suspension for a trainer.

According to a statement from the racing board's executive director, Kirk Breed, the new penalty guidelines call for a minimum 30-day suspension and a fine of up to $10,000.

The stricter rules were approved by the racing board at its monthly meeting in July and recently underwent a legal review by the California office of administrative law.

The stricter penalties are the final stage of a lengthy rule-making process essentially to ban the use of steroids in racing horses. On July 1, the racing board began sending notices to horsemen whose horses test in excess of the permitted levels. No sanctions were levied with the notices.

Beginning with races run on Aug. 1, and continuing until Sept. 3, trainers whose horses tested positive for excessive levels of the four steroids are receiving warnings, which do not result in a loss of purse or penalty to a trainer but become part of a trainer's record and will be taken into consideration in the event of future violations.

The idea to phase in the penalties was done by the racing board to prompt trainers to stop giving their horses anabolic steroids by July 1, allowing for a 30-day withdrawal period before the warnings were given.