09/20/2013 12:53PM

Racing Medication and Testing Consortium recommends prohibition of the steroid stanozolol

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The board of the Racing Medication and Testing Consortium has recommended that states remove threshold levels for the synthetic anabolic steroid stanozolol, a move that would make any finding for the drug a positive regardless of the concentration in post-race samples.

The recommendation would effectively prohibit trainers and veterinarians from using stanozolol. The previous recommended threshold level allowed the steroid to be used outside 30 days from a race. The racing industry moved to either outright prohibit or restrict the use of anabolic steroids in 2008, with most states adopting restrictions by the end of 2009.

Hallie Roach Lewis, a spokeswoman for the RMTC, said the board voted to recommend the withdrawal of the threshold level because stanozolol is no longer being produced by a licensed manufacturer and is now only being produced by veterinary compounders. Stanozolol had been sold under the trade name Winstrol, an FDA approved product, whereas compounded products do not have FDA approval.

The decision to remove the threshold takes place in the wake of a scandal in Britain that resulted in Mahmood al Zarooni, a trainer for Sheikh Mohammed al-Maktoum’s Godolphin, being suspended for eight years after a number of horses in his training yard tested positive for stanozolol and another anabolic steroid.

Many veterinarians believe that anabolic steroids can have therapeutic effects in out-of-competition settings because they can restore appetite in horses that have lost weight or that are not responding well to the rigors of training. However, steroid use in all sports has become increasingly controversial, even in out-of-competition settings.

Also at the meeting, which took place Tuesday in Denver, the board voted to form an out-of-competition testing committee “to recommend any necessary changes to the protocol for the collection and testing of out-of-competition samples at the request of the Jockey Club.” The Jockey Club has pledged to contribute $100,000 to the RMTC over the next two years to put in place out-of-competition testing programs targeting participants in graded stakes races.

Rules providing for out-of-competition testing have been passed in seven states, including New York, Kentucky, and California. Some organizations want to see the practice expanded as a way to deter the use of sophisticated designer drugs that have long-lasting effects, though there is some controversy over sampling and testing procedures.

Also at the meeting, the RMTC board endorsed an ongoing effort to adopt uniform medication policies and penalties, and it elected Alex Waldrop, president of the National Thoroughbred Racing Association, as its new chairman, replacing Dr. Robert Lewis, a past president of the American Association of Equine Practitioners. Lewis had been the chairman of the RMTC board for the past six years.