11/30/2007 1:00AM

Six states back steroid ban

EmailSix states in the Mid-Atlantic region will put in place rules to regulate the use of anabolic steroids by April 1, state officials said Friday after a meeting on the issue earlier in the week.

The states are Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and West Virginia. Each will adopt the recommended rule issued earlier this year by the Association of Racing Commissioners International. The rule establishes threshold levels for four anabolic steroids and prohibits the use of the drugs within 30 days of a race. It further bans all other anabolic steroids.

Anabolic steroids are currently used regularly by horsemen in the United States to build muscle mass, help horses recover from exercise, and restore appetite. The United States is the only major racing jurisdiction in the world that allows the unregulated use of anabolic steroids in racehorses.

The regulation of anabolic steroid use gained momentum late in 2006 when the Racing and Medication Testing Consortium recommended that states adopt rules to prohibit the regular administration of the drugs. Since then, a number of states, including California, have adopted rules requiring regulation. In New York, regulators have posted a rule for public comment that would regulate steroid use, but that rule, if adopted, would likely not go into effect until late 2008.

The movement began slowly, in part, because state racing commissions feared losing horsemen if other states did not follow suit with regulations. The six Mid-Atlantic states typically draw horses from the same population.

The states warned horsemen that a horse can retain traces of anabolic steroids for as many as 120 days, and recommended that trainers in the region immediately stop administering the drugs to avoid a positive as of the April 1 effective date.