07/04/2002 12:00AM

Ontario declares ban on EPO

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TORONTO, Ontario - Ontario has become the latest racing jurisdiction to ban EPO, the blood-enhancing agent formally known as erythropoietin.

The Ontario Racing Commission announced that the ban was effective immediately as par of a new rule that also includes a ban on darbepoietin, a similar substance.

In announcing the ban, the commission referred to a review of the use of EPO in horses at the Ontario Veterinary College at the University of Guelph, Ontario, which found the substance to be potentially harmful and of no therapeutic use to racehorses.

Since no recognized test to detect and confirm the administration of EPO in horses has been developed, the commision rule relating to the substance will deal with possession or use.

California, Kentucky, New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania already have announced plans to ban or discourage the possession and use of EPO.