08/24/2008 11:00PM

Kentucky passes tough steroid rule

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LEXINGTON, Ky. - The administration of anabolic steroids may be regulated in Kentucky as early as next week under strict new rules that were unanimously approved Monday by the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission.

The rules prohibit the administration of all but three anabolic steroids, which can be given only 60 or more days before a race. The rules are expected to be forwarded next week to Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear, according to Robert Beck, the chairman of the commission. Beck said that Beshear has indicated that he would sign an emergency order to implement the rules.

"This is a step forward for Kentucky in the war on illegal medication," Beck said.

Normally, rules are required to be approved by the legislature after a 60-day public-notice period. The emergency order would implement the rules while the legislative process gets under way.

Only several months ago, the regulation of anabolic steroids in Kentucky by the end of the year appeared to be an iffy prospect. However, Beshear revamped the commission in July after installing Beck as chairman in March. Beck has been aggressively pushing for the rules.

Twelve U.S. racing jurisdictions have already adopted rules regulating anabolic steroids, using a model developed by the Racing Medication and Testing Consortium. The Kentucky rule differs from the model by banning the administration of the steroid stanozolol entirely and prohibiting the administration of any anabolic steroid within 60 days of a race. The model rule allows for the administration of stanozolol and three other anabolic steroids - boldenone, nandrolone, and testosterone - 30 days or more before a race.

The Kentucky rules allow for a 90-day grace period in which trainers will be issued warnings if a horse tests positive for an anabolic steroid. However, if a trainer were to have a horse test positive for an anabolic steroid in the last 30 days of the grace period, the finding would be treated as an "aggravating factor" in determining the penalty for any subsequent violation.

Dr. Jerry Yon, a commission member who oversaw the drafting of the rule as the chairman of the Kentucky Equine Drug Research Council, said that the language treating positives as "aggravating factors" was added this week because of allegations in California that some trainers were using a similarly designed grace period to continue to administer steroids without penalties. Yon said trainers are supposed to quit using steroids once the grace period starts.

"We don't want people abusing it and ending the administration of anabolic steroids during the grace period," Yon said.

The rules would allow a trainer to void a claim if the claimed horse tests positive for steroids.

Kentucky tests the winner of each race plus one other horse selected by the stewards. Rick Hiles, the president of the Kentucky Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association, said that association officials had asked the commission to test all claimed horses under the new steroid regulations, but that the commission said it would be too expensive. Lisa Underwood, the executive director of the commission, confirmed that the commission is unable to pay for more drug tests.

"If you want to live in a steroid-free world, you should test every claimed horse so that an owner does not have to deal with something like that happening," Hiles said. "But we don't have a problem with banning steroids."