08/24/2006 11:00PM

Illinois approves EPO tests

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The Illinois Racing Board has implemented a test for the blood enhancer erythropoietin, or EPO, in horses racing at the state's tracks.

The test, developed by the board's own laboratory, was administered on a trial basis and deemed successful before the board made it part of statutory regulation through an emergency rule.

The EPO test, which also covers the similar substance darbepoietin, detects the presence of antibodies created by EPO in a horse's system, but does not detect the substance itself. Thus, penalties for EPO positives are limited to a horse being banned from racing for a period of 21 days, and do not include sanctions against the horse's trainer or owner, or redistribution of purse money. A horse with a positive EPO test will be retested every 21 days until its system is found to be clear of EPO antibodies. Stewards' rulings concerning positive tests will be issued in the same way other medication positives are made public.

EPO can be used as a blood-enhancing agent by increasing the oxygen-carrying capacity of blood.