12/14/2005 1:00AM

Vet group gives sale stance


The American Association of Equine Practitioners has recommended that sales companies put in place drug-testing programs and enforce prohibitions on certain drugs while horses are entered at auction.

The recommendations were contained in a position paper released on Wednesday by the AAEP, the largest equine veterinary group in the United States

The paper, which acknowledges that the veterinarian's association does not have any power to enforce rules, recommends that sales companies prohibit the administration of medications on the sales grounds, with exceptions for one nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug; one corticosteroid, with the exception of methylprednisolone acetate; medications for gastric ulcers; tranquilizers; oral anti-arthritic medications; and progestins, which are used to maintain pregnancy.

The paper makes limited allowances for other drugs. Treatments for equine protozoal myelitis, bronchdilators such as clenbuterol, vaso-active pain-killers such as aspirin, and parenteral anti-arthritics should not be allowed on the sales grounds but could be present in a horse's blood or urine samples in levels consistent with "the lowest therapeutic dose," the paper said.

The paper also said that certain drugs be allowed "at therapeutic levels."

Stimulants, muscle relaxants, diuretics, and anabolic steroids should be banned from the sales grounds and not be present at any level in a horse's blood or urine at the time of sale, the paper stated.

The paper recommended that sales companies allow for the collection of urine and blood samples after a buyer has purchased a horse. Testing of the samples would be paid for by the buyer.

It is unclear whether sales companies will embrace the recommendations. Geoffrey Russell, the director of sales for Keeneland, the largest horse sale company in the world, said Wednesday that the position paper had not yet been distributed to sales companies and that he could not comment directly on its recommendations.

"Obviously, we'd be interested in what the paper says, and we'll talk to our client base about what they would prefer to see," Russell said.

Keeneland already has a drug policy in place for its 2-year-old in training sales. The policy requires consignors to notify the sales company about any medication given to a horse within 14 days of the sale.