Regulation of anabolic and androgenic steroids in racehorses in Delaware will begin April 19 with an almost three-month "grace period" that will entail penalties.
After a March 11 public hearing on proposed rules, the Delaware Thoroughbred Racing Commission adopted them. The start-up date coincides with opening day of the live 136-day racing season at Delaware Park.
The grace period will run from April 19-July 16, officials said. If a horse tests positive during that period, it must test clean before it races again, and the trainer will be fined $500 and be responsible for costs related to drug testing.
A second offense with the same horse during the first three months of the Delaware Park meet would bring a 90-day suspension, $2,500 fine, loss of purse, and another ban on the horse until it tests clean, according to the regulations.
“I hope that horsemen will be aware that these substances are banned and will avoid being penalized by complying with the rules and will do what is in the best interests of the horse,” racing commission chairman Bernard Daney said in a statement.
After the grace period expires, horses that test positive through the end of the racing season on Nov. 11 will face an initial penalty of a $1,000 fine, 45-day suspension of the trainer, loss of purse, and the horse will be placed on the stewards’ list. A second offense will bring a $2,500 fine, a 90-day suspension, loss of purse, and further racing sanctions prohibiting the horse from running until it tests clean.
A third offense will bring loss of purse and possible license revocation, officials said.
Regulation of anabolic steroids begins in Pennsylvania and Indiana April 1 as well. Pennsylvania also has a three-month grace period; Indiana opted for 45 days. Other states are expected to begin regulating steroids this summer.
The Racing Medication and Testing Consortium said all racing jurisdictions should be regulating steroids by the end of 2008. The industry continues to await the results of research with a goal of established threshold levels for testing and withdrawal times for use of steroids for therapeutic purposes.
“With all of the information that has been available to the public about the use of anabolic steroids in Major League Baseball, football, the Olympics, and other sports, professional and amateur, the time was long overdue for elimination of these substances from racing competition,” DTRC executive director John Wayne said in a statement.
Wayne said Pennsylvania Horse Racing Commission chairman Rick Abbott attended the March 11 meeting in Delaware to affirm his state’s plans to move forward April 1. The week of March 2, Abbott revealed that after two months of informational testing in Pennsylvania, almost 99% of more than 2,000 samples tested negative for steroids.