02/29/2008 12:00AM

California steroid rule advances

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The California Horse Racing Board approved a rule change on Thursday to add four anabolic steroids to the list of Class 3 drugs subject to penalties for excessive usage.

The rule change is the first stage of a lengthy process that could last until late summer. The rule change will be forwarded to the state's office of administrative law for review, according to Dr. Rick Arthur, the racing board's equine medical director.

"This is the first step in regulating anabolic steroids," Arthur told the racing board. He went on to call the rule change "the most important action the board will take on medication this year."

The four steroids - boldenone, nandrolone, stanazolol, and testosterone - will be permitted to appear in low levels, Arthur said. With the steroids listed as Class 3 medications - defined in part as having the possibility to affect performance - tests for excessive levels will be subject to the redistribution of purses and a possible fine and/or suspension of the trainer involved.

On Friday at Santa Anita, Arthur said the rule change will be presented to horsemen in coming months to allow horses on such medications to be withdrawn before penalties are enacted.

"The concept is to ease them in and give horsemen plenty of opportunities to understand what will be acceptable and what will be unacceptable," Arthur said.

Arthur said he wants the rule change to be in place before the Breeders' Cup is conducted at the Oak Tree at Santa Anita meeting in late October, and possibly as early as late summer.