09/25/2003 11:00PM

Policymakers to suggest Lasix-only


NEW YORK - The racing industry group working on a model-rules policy has determined that the anti-bleeding medication Lasix is the only drug that should be allowed to be administered on raceday, according to participants in the effort.

The Lasix-only policy would put the model rules document in conflict with the rules in a number of states. Most states currently allow at least Lasix and the anti-inflammatory drug Butazolidan to be administered on raceday, and many allow other anti-inflammatories and corticosteroids.

The group, officially called the Racing Medication and Testing Consortium, met on Thursday in Los Angeles to work on the policy and determine recipients of grant money for research into drugs and testing procedures. The consortium is scheduled to meet next in November to hammer out additional details of the policy, according to Dr. Scot Waterman, the executive director of the consortium.

Waterman declined to provide details about the policy and said that the identity of the four grant recipients would be released when the researchers have been notified. The group awarded four grants worth a total of $275,000.

According to one participant, one of the grants went for research into developing a test to detect erythropoietin, the illegal blood-doping drug that is rumored to be in widespread use in racing.

Twenty-six members of the consortium participated in Thursday's meeting, which focused on model rules that would determine penalties for drug positives, Waterman said. Penalties for non-therapeutic drugs would likely be more punitive under the model rules than under the rules that exist today, he added.

The group plans to present the policy to representatives of racing commissions on Dec. 10 at a conference in Arizona. The consortium is hoping that many racing commissions adopt the model rules early next year.

The Kentucky Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association is opposed to the restrictive new policy, and representatives of the KHBPA, along with veterinarians in the state, have declined to cooperate in the effort. Kentucky has the most liberal medication policy in the country.

Other groups in Kentucky, however, including the Kentucky Thoroughbred Association, Churchill Downs, and Keeneland, have supported the consortium's work. Participants said that it is unclear whether the Kentucky Racing Commission would adopt the rules.