Anne M. Eberhardt

Louisiana Latest to Adopt Steroids Rule

Use of anabolic steroids in racehorses will be regulated in Louisiana.

Using emergency regulations, the Louisiana Racing Commission has banned the use of anabolic steroids in racehorses effective Jan. 1, 2009.

Racing commission executive director Charlie Gardiner said the regulations were adopted Dec. 2 via emergency procedure to have them on the books in time for the first of the year. “The end of January was the earliest we could have adopted this regulation via the normal rule-making process,” he said.

The Louisiana rule applies to all forms of steroids that do not occur naturally in a horse, including stanozolol, which is sold under the brand name Winstrol. Naturally occurring steroids, such as boldenone, nandrolone, and testosterone, would be permitted at “normal” levels but cannot be given within 45 days of a race.

The normal level of the steroids in horses, geldings, and mares is still being determined by the Racing Medication and Testing Consortium and the Association of Racing Commissioners International, which together fashioned the model rule on anabolic steroids.

According to the RMTC Web site, 20 states have adopted the model rule on use of steroids in racehorses; another 13 are in the process of adopting the language. The process hasn’t been started in only three racing states: Idaho, Montana, and Nevada.

Under the Louisiana rules, a steroid positive would be a Class 3 medication violation, which means a trainer with a positive test result would face a suspension between 60 days and six months, a fine of no more than $1,500, and redistribution of purse earnings.

The racing commission also filed a notice of intent to adopt voluntary regulations concerning the use of the anti-bleeder medication Salix, formerly known as Lasix. The rule would make administration of Salix voluntary, rather than requiring evidence of pulmonary bleeding.

Under the regulations, a trainer and veterinarian would request a horse be permitted to receive Salix if they “determine that it would be in the horse’s best interest.”

Once on the Salix list maintained by the state’s official veterinarian, the horse could not race without it unless the trainer and veterinarian make a written request. The horse then could not return to the list for 60 days, “unless it is determined to be detrimental to the welfare of the horse, in consultation with the official veterinarian.”

Gardiner said the voluntary regulation could take effect in April.