07/10/2003 12:00AM

New York has EPO test in works


NEW YORK - The New York Racing and Wagering Board is planning to test horses for the banned blood-enhancing drug erythropoietin beginning sometime in the fall, the board announced on Thursday.

If successful in implementing the test, New York will become the first U.S. state to test for erythropoietin, or EPO, as it is commonly called. Several states have begun using a test to detect the drug on an experimental basis, but no state considers the results of a positive a legal finding that can be used to sanction a trainer or horse.

(Last week, the Ontario Racing Commission announced that horses racing in that province would be tested for antibodies of EPO, starting Nov. 1, with those testing positive not allowed to race for an extended period.)

According to the New York board, a horse who tests positive for EPO will be banned from running until he submits a clean test. The board said it is still finalizing rules to determine positives and how to administer the tests.

EPO has been the subject of persistent rumors in racing for several years. The drug is believed to enhance performance by stimulating the production of oxygen-carrying red blood cells.