10/24/2007 11:00PM

First step to New York steroid ban

EmailThe New York State Racing and Wagering Board has begun asking for comment on a proposed rule to ban all but four anabolic steroids in both Thoroughbred racing and harness racing.

The rule, which is modeled on recommendation by the Association of Racing Commissioners International, would allow four anabolic steroids – stanozolol, boldenone, nandrolone, and testosterone – but would establish threshold levels for the drugs that would prohibit their use within 30 days of a race. All other anabolic steroids would be prohibited.

The solicitation of comment on a rule is the first step in a lengthy rule-making process in New York. The wagering board posted the proposed rule to ban steroids on its website last week.

"It's still very much in the conceptual stage," said Dan Toomey, a spokesman for the board. "At this point in time we need to get some insight as to whether or not we would want to go forward with it."

Toomey said that the comment period would likely last for 45 days from the initial publication of the rule.

Late last year, the Racing Medication and Testing Consortium recommended that the Thoroughbred industry begin to regulate the administration of anabolic steroids for the first time. The ARCI adopted the model rule earlier this year.

Anabolic steroids can be used to build muscle mass in horses, but the drugs are also used therapeutically in order to help horses recover more quickly from exercise and restore appetite. The U.S. is the only racing country in the world where anabolic steroid use is unregulated.

Earlier this year, Indiana became the first racing state to adopt the ARCI's rule on steroid use. In addition. Virginia announced this year that it would begin to enforce a ban on anabolic steroids that had been in its rules for a decade.

The adoption of the rule is controversial in part because of the widespread use of anabolic steroids in American racing and the reluctance of states to enforce a rule that is not in place in other jurisdictions. So far, New York is the largest racing state to consider the prohibition of anabolic steroids.