07/15/2008 11:00PM

Kentucky panel urges tests for steroids

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LEXINGTON, Ky. - A subcommittee of the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission's Equine Drug Research Council has recommended a ban on all anabolic steroids in races and has endorsed out-of-competition drug testing both for prohibited substances and to monitor therapeutic medication use.

The Subcommittee on Anabolic Steroids released its recommendation at a meeting at the commission offices in Lexington on Wednesday. The recommendation, which will be made to the Equine Drug Research Council at its Aug. 11 meeting, does not include specific testing threshold levels. Subcommittee member Dr. Mary Scollay, the commission's medical director, said that it will be up to the commission to determine threshold levels if it adopts the ban, and it is likely that the commission would take the Racing Medication and Testing Consortium's recommendations on testing thresholds.

The consortium's proposed rule for anabolic steroid regulation includes testing levels in urine. The consortium is funding research to determine screening levels in both blood and urine, as well as withdrawal times.

"It is to try to go along with the national standards that will be adopted, hopefully, in September," subcommittee chairman Dr. Jim Smith said of Wednesday's recommendation. "I think uniformity is very important. We have to show all of the public, not just the betting public, that the horse industry is anxious to put this anabolic steroids problem behind us, and this is a good effective step."

The subcommittee recommendations define an infraction as the detection of steroids that do not occur naturally or the detection of those that do, such as testosterone, in a concentration that "deviates from established naturally occurring physiologic levels."

Noting the role of anabolic steroids as therapeutic in debilitated horses, the subcommittee's recommendation said, "It is not the intent of this recommendation to limit the discretionary powers of the attending veterinarian . . . for administration of a medication if such use is determined to be in the best interest of the health of the horse. However, horses receiving treatment under this provision are not excluded from the above described post-race testing requirements and are to be withdrawn from competition until such time as they are in compliance."