08/14/2008 11:00PM

Kentucky horsemen fret over rule changes

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Horsemen in Kentucky are concerned that a proposal to strictly regulate the administration of anabolic steroids to racehorses will create confusion among trainers who ship in to race because of differences between the Kentucky rule and the rules in place in other states, the top official of the Kentucky Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association said on Friday.

Marty Maline, the executive director of the Kentucky horsemen's association, said that horsemen hoped to meet with state regulators over the next 10 days to voice their concerns about the proposed rules, which were approved by the Kentucky Equine Drug Research Council at a meeting on Thursday. The rules are expected to be considered by the full Kentucky Horse Racing Commission at its next meeting on Aug. 25.

"We think this is a good starting point," Maline said. "We realize that there needs to be steroid regulations, but there are issues for us, specifically related to uniformity."

The rules approved by the drug council differ significantly in several ways from a model rule that 12 jurisdictions have already adopted. The model rule was developed by the Racing Medication and Testing Consortium, an industry funded group, and has been approved by the Association of Racing Commissioners International, an umbrella group for racing commissions.

The model rule prohibits the administration of all but four anabolic steroids - boldenone, nandrolone, stanozolol, and testosterone - which cannot be used within 30 days of a race. The Kentucky rule, in contrast, allows for the administration of three anabolic steroids - stanozolol would be prohibited - that cannot be used within 60 days of a race.

Jerry Yon, the chairman of the drug council, said on Friday that council members used the model rule as a "guideline" to drafting the regulation approved on Thursday. But he said that the model rule, which was drafted several years ago, did not properly reflect all the available science on anabolic steroids.

"We're not trying to make people's lives miserable," Yon said. "We're trying to improve on the model rule, and we think we can be the model for other states. I would think that as the rules get adopted, people are going to look to Kentucky for guidance."

The Kentucky regulation's prohibition on stanozolol was based on the fact that the drug is no longer manufactured, Yon said. Most horsemen refer to stanozolol as Winstrol, the trade name of the drug when it was produced by Winthrop Laboratories, but the drug is now available only through compounding laboratories.

Yon said that compounding laboratories do not consistently produce quantities of stanozolol, and that the strength and efficacy of the compounded drugs vary from dose to dose and lab to lab. As a result, members of the drug council decided to prohibit the drug because of concerns about regulation and testing, based on the variability.

"If we're going to allow horsemen to treat horses with steroids for therapeutic reasons, let's make sure they are giving them good medicine," Yon said.

If the Kentucky racing commission adopts the rule as it is written at the Aug. 25 meeting, the regulations will be sent to a legislative committee for review and then posted for a 60-day public-comment period. Regulators can consider changes to the rule based on the comments received during that period.

Maline said that horsemen's officials wanted to make their concerns known to the racing commission before the Aug. 25 meeting.

"We're confident Dr. Yon and other commissioners will consider our position," Maline said.