02/10/2015 1:06PM

Thurston suspended for steroid by Maryland commission


The Maryland Racing Commission has suspended Jerry Thurston, a journeyman trainer, for 30 days after a horse he trained tested positive for the banned anabolic steroid stanozolol following a mid-December race, according to commission records.

Thurston is the fourth trainer in the past two weeks to be suspended in Maryland for a positive for the drug, which is not commercially available and can only be obtained through compounding pharmacies. The positives have come from a total of seven horses: one trained by Thurston, three trained by Hector Garcia, two trained by Scott Lake, and one trained by A. Ferris Allen.

The positive was detected in Home of America, who won the ninth race at Laurel Park on Dec. 12, according to the commission. Under Maryland drug testing protocols, horses that win are tested far more often than horses that finish second, third, or out of the money.

Thurston, who has been training since 1976, began his suspension on Feb. 7. Home of America was disqualified from the race and the purse redistributed. Thurston also was assigned four points under Maryland’s multiple-medication violation protocol, which increases penalties on trainers if they have horses test positive multiple times within a certain time frame. Thurston won one race from 24 starts last year, and had four wins from 24 starts in 2013.

As of October of last year, the Maryland Racing Commission began enforcing a zero-tolerance rule for anabolic steroids. Rules in many U.S. states allow for the therapeutic use of anabolic steroids as long as they are not administered within 30 days of a race. Anabolic steroids build muscle mass when used regularly, but the drugs also can be used to bolster a horse’s appetite. The U.S. racing industry cracked down on the use of the drugs five years ago.