03/26/2008 12:00AM

Panel specifies steroid proposal


Anabolic steroids should be administered only more than 30 days before a race and in order to treat a specific injury or illness, the Racing Medication and Testing Consortium advised on Wednesday after adopting language for a model rule to regulate the use of the powerful drugs.

The rule was adopted on Tuesday in Austin, Texas, at a board meeting for the consortium, an industry-funded group that devises and recommends rules governing the use of drugs in the sport. The consortium first recommended that the North American racing industry begin regulating the use of anabolic steroids late in 2006, and has advised racing commissions to adopt the rule by the end of this year.

According to the rule, only four anabolic steroids - boldenone, nandrolone, stanozolol, and testosterone - will be permitted, but none of the drugs will be allowed to be administered within 30 days of a race. In addition, the rule recommends that veterinarians notify state racing commissions when they use an anabolic steroids on a horse through a "treatment report" detailing the reason why the drug was administered.

When used regularly, anabolic steroids can be used to build muscle mass in horses. Many veterinarians and horsemen claim that the drugs have therapeutic uses in helping horses recover from exercise and maintain appetite.

The United States is the only major racing jurisdiction in the world in which anabolic steroids are largely unregulated. The U.S. racing industry has been under pressure to adopt quickly a rule regulating the use of the drugs by federal legislators examining the use of anabolic steroids in other professional sports.

The consortium's rule recommendation also calls for states to implement 90-day grace periods after the effective date of the restrictions. If a horse tests positive for an anabolic steroid during the grace period, the trainer and owner will be warned, but no penalty will be issued.

Delaware, Indiana, Pennsylvania, and Virginia have already adopted rules for the regulation of steroids beginning this year. Other states are in the process of adopting rules, but most are not expected to begin enforcing the rules until Jan. 1, 2009.