Regulations ultimately resulting in a race-day ban on anabolic steroids most likely will be in place in many states in the Mid-Atlantic region by April 1, 2008.
Representatives of regulatory bodies in the region met the week of Oct. 1, said Alan Foreman, chief executive officer of the Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association and chairman of the meetings, which are held regularly. Many issues remain--cost of testing, timing, implementation, and the fact two states have separate racing commissions for Thoroughbred and harness racing--but Foreman said the states are heading in the same direction.
“They’ll even be including recommended penalties for violators,” Foreman said. “They’ll move relatively swiftly and in unison.”
The states, which share common borders, are Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. Virginia already tests for steroids. West Virginia is expected to follow suit as it has with other medication rules, Foreman said.
In New York, adoption of regulations could take eight months to a year because of the regulatory and legislative process, he said.
Meanwhile, the Delaware Harness Racing Commission, during an Oct. 9 meeting, opted not to adopt the Racing Medication and Testing Consortium model rule on regulation of anabolic steroids until more research is performed.
The commission, which oversees harness racing at Dover Downs and Harrington Raceway, was told by its laboratory representative the equipment needed to test for steroids would cost more than a half-million dollars. According to a release, the commission determined it shouldn’t make the investment on “something that was not scientifically sound.”
DHRC officials said more research on anabolic steroids and determination of their effects on horses are necessary before rules can be implemented.
“After consulting with the commission, the chair decided that the DHRC would be proceeding cautiously regarding the test procedures and sanctions for Delaware harness racing,” DHRC executive director Hugh Gallagher said in a statement.
The model rules, which in late September were adopted by the Indiana Horse Racing Commission, call for the testing of urine and plasma. Horsemen and officials familiar with drug testing told the Indiana panel steroids tests should be performed on blood.
Foreman acknowledged the model rule but said blood would be drawn for tests in the Mid-Atlantic region. Cost, however, is an issue.
“There is a cost involved in this testing, and it could be very difficult for a number of jurisdictions (to pay),” he said.
In Indiana, horsemen don’t oppose the regulation of steroids but sought more information before the regulations were adopted Sept. 27. The rules take effect Jan. 1, 2008, but the first live race in Indiana won’t take place until early April.
Jeff Edwards, president of the Indiana Standardbred Association, said not enough research has been done to establish effective threshold levels and withdrawal times for commonly used steroids. The RMTC model rule governs boldenone (Equipoise), stanozolol (Winstrol), nandrolone (Durabolin), and testosterone.
“We all agree there should be some form of regulation, but when the time is right,” Edwards said.
Randy Klopp, president of the Indiana Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association, said the rule as adopted “will give everybody that races in Indiana a bad test.”
“We never asked to use steroids,” Klopp said. “We just want it to be fair.”
Representatives of the Indiana HBPA, IHRC, Hoosier Park, and Indiana Downs met Oct. 2 to continue dialogue on steroids regulation. The IHRC will consider future modifications from the Racing Medication and Testing Consortium, according to a memo from the horsemen’s group.
Foreman said Mid-Atlantic horsemen are aware of the national push for steroids regulation but haven’t seen the regional proposal. Individual states will have public comment periods before rules are adopted.