08/27/2006 11:00PM

Ohio approves test for EPO


The Ohio State Racing Commission has approved a plan to test for the illegal blood-enhancing drug erythropoietin and will send postrace blood samples to a laboratory in Pennsylvania that has developed a new test to detect the drug.

The approval came at a commission meeting last week. Erythropoietin, commonly referred to as EPO, can help horses increase the oxygen-carrying capacity of red blood cells.

The blood samples will be sent to the Pennsylvania Equine Toxicology and Research Lab, which earlier this month developed a test to detect EPO definitively. Tests for the presence of EPO had earlier been limited to detection of antibodies produced by the horses in reaction to an EPO injection. Those tests were not considered definitive enough to stand up in court.

Also at the meeting last week, the racing commission approved the purchase of blood-gas analysis machines to test for the administration of illegal concoctions of baking soda and electrolytes, thought to help a horse stave off fatigue.

The machines, to be put in place at all three of the state's Thoroughbred tracks and all four of its harness tracks, will be used to test total carbon dioxide concentration in a horse's blood before a race. Any horse testing above 37 millimoles of total carbon dioxide per liter of blood will be scratched from the race.