07/02/2002 12:00AM

Pennsylvania bans EPO


Pennsylvania has joined the growing number of states that have adopted or are in the process of adopting a rule banning the possession of erythropoietin, the blood-enhancing agent known as EPO.

The Pennsylvania State Horse Racing Commission issued an advisory at a meeting on June 27 that said that EPO and a similar drug, darbepoietin, were banned under an existing rule. The advisory also said that perfluorocarbon emulsions - synthetic blood-dopers - were also considered illegal.

"This is our way of saying that you better be aware that we are watching," said Ben Nolt, the commission chairman. "We know what is going on and we are going to have our eyes out."

Pennsylvania joins New Jersey, California, Kentucky, and New York as states that have recently begun efforts to ban or discourage EPO possession and abuse.

Although a test to detect EPO has not yet been introduced for official use in racing laboratories, scientists have said that a test is close to being developed.