10/14/2002 11:00PM

West Virginia pushes drug reform


West Virginia horsemen, stewards, and commission members agreed Tuesday to push for new rules to permit several anti-bleeding drugs on race day and to ban the possession of blood-enhancing agents like erythropoietin.

The new rules could take effect as early as next month, according to Joe Cuomo, the director of the West Virginia Racing Commission.

The medications would be allowed to be administered only in conjunction with Lasix, the diuretic used to treat bleeding that is legal on raceday in every U.S. racing jurisdiction. The three drugs include two blood-clotting agents, aminocaproic acid (Amicar) and transexamic acid (Tranex), and carbazachrome, which is used to treat high blood pressure. Carbazachrome is also known as "Kentucky Red."

If the rule is passed, West Virginia would join Maryland, Kentucky, and Louisiana as states where multiple anti-bleeding medications are allowed on race day.

Nearly a dozen states have banned the possession of erythropoietin, or EPO, since the Association of Racing Commissioners International passed a model rule earlier this year prohibiting the drug on the grounds of any racetrack. Many investigators believe the drug is being widely abused on race day.