New York racing regulators have approved a final set of rules restricting the use of anabolic steroids in horse racing, effective Jan. 1, 2009. New York officials said the rules send a strong message to those hoping to use illegal performance-enhancing drugs.
“New York and increasingly much of the country is saying no steroids to enhance the performance of the horse," said John Sabini, chairman of the New York State Racing and Wagering Board. "It’s the wrong message to the betting public and the wrong practice for the health of the horse."
The rules set new limits for four steroids currently permitted in New York, and restricts their use to only one of the four at a time. The steroids stanozolol (Winstrol), one nanogram per milliliter of urine; boldenone (Equipoise), for male horses other than geldings, 15 ng/ml; nandrolone (Durabolin), one ng/ml; and testosterone, 20 ng/ml in geldings and 55 ng/ml in fillies and mares.
Officials said violation of the rules carries suspensions and a maximum fine of $5,000 per violation.
The New York Racing Association and The Jockey Club supported the new thresholds, which can be found on the NYSRWB Web site at http://www.racing.state.ny.us/. They are modeled after similar rules supported by the Racing Medication and Testing Consortium and the Association of Racing Commissioners International.
The board adopted the final rule after a public comment period ended the week of Dec. 14. No changes came following the comment period from what the board approved for the new policy back in October, Sabini said.
“We will eliminate the use of steroids and make the public feel that everyone is running on the same (playing field), that horses are humanely treated, and that there’s less chance of drugs affecting the outcome of the races," Sabini said.
The regulator said there are concerns that some in the industry may try to get around the new restrictions.
“We are confident our veterinarian advisory personnel are as good as anyone in the country and have written as strong a rule that can be written," he said.
The rules affect both Thoroughbred and Standardbred racehorses.
Said racing and wagering board member John Simoni added: "The best menu for a horse is hay, water, and oats. Steroids do not belong in the mix. My goal for a long time has been an industry that is free of drugs."