04/04/2004 11:00PM

Drug suggestions passed

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The two major regulatory organizations in North America approved a set of recommendations for nationally uniform medication rules on Saturday, clearing the way for new rules to be adopted in states across the country.

The rules, which would restrict race-day medication to the popular diuretic furosemide, commonly known as Lasix, have been under development for 2 1/2 years. The organizations that approved the rules - the Association of Racing Commissioners International and the North American Pari-Mutuel Regulators Association - represent the vast majority of racing commissions in North America.

Most racing commissions will be able to adopt the rules by issuing new regulations, according to Dr. Scot Waterman, executive director of the Racing Medication and Testing Consortium, which developed the rules. Some rules, however, will have to be approved by state legislatures, complicating the process.

"It's hard to say how many states could be on board by the end of the year," Waterman said Monday. "It's going to depend on what percentage are policy changes and what percentage are legislative changes."

The rules are also expected to be controversial in Kentucky, which has the most liberal medication rules in the country. The Kentucky Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association has said it opposes any change to the state's existing rules, while many of Kentucky's tracks and the Kentucky Thoroughbred Association - an owners' and breeders' group - have supported the rules.

Waterman said the Racing Medication and Testing Consortium would continue to work with states to adopt the rules. The consortium is also hoping to develop model rules that would address penalties for drug positives.