A subcommittee of the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission has unanimously recommended that anabolic steroids be banned in horse racing in the state.
“The use of anabolic androgenic steroids shall be banned in horses competing in pari-mutuel racing sporting events in the commonwealth of Kentucky,” said the position statement approved July 16 by the Subcommittee on Anabolic Steroids.
The panel is a subcommittee of the Kentucky Equine Drug Research Council and the state racing commission. The drug research council, which is charged with making drug and medication recommendations to the commission, is tentatively scheduled to meet Aug. 11, at which time it will consider the subcommittee’s recommendation.
According to the position statement, which does not provide specific threshold levels of anabolic steroids that can be present in a post-race test before a positive is called, “either or both of the following in a post-race biological sample shall constitute an infraction: the detection of exogenous anabolic androgenic steroids and/or their metabolites; and the detection of endogenous anabolic steroids whereby the concentration of the substance(s), its metabolites, markers, and/or any relevant ratio(s) deviates from established naturally occurring physical levels."
Dr. Jim Smith, chairman of the subcommittee, said it is hoped the recommendation will be used by the drug research council and the full commission to come up with a regulation that is consistent with a national policies being adopted by racing jurisdictions in the United States.
“I think uniformity is very important,” Smith said. “We have told all of the public, not just the betting public, that the horse industry is anxious to put this anabolic steroids problem behind us, and this is a good, effective step. I am proud of the steps we are taking. We are, in effect, banning it from horses in racing. This is a philosophic statement that says we want to get rid of anabolic steroids.”
Smith said the small allowable levels--trace amounts--of steroids present in post-race tests recognize the possible presence of the drug due to inadvertent contamination. “We don’t want to penalize an innocent person, but want to get to anyone trying to get around the regulation,” Smith said.
Though the recommendation was unanimous, Smith said there was considerable discussion among subcommittee members during their meetings.
“In general principle, we have all been on the same page,” Smith said. “We have disagreements on minor things, but never on major things. We just wanted to be sure we had the wording right so it would be done to protect the industry, to protect the horse, and to protect the public.”
The policy includes supportive statements that articulate the subcommittee’s belief that anabolic steroids in some situations have positive uses in horses, but should not be used for horses in competition.
“What we came out with today is a philosophical statement that bridged a number of levels within the industry of practicing veterinarians, regulatory veterinarians,” said Dr. Mary Scollay, the KHRC equine medical director who served on the subcommittee.
The policy could still undergo changes as it is considered by the drug research council and the commission. “There may be a number of changes,” Smith said of the additional process. “We would hope not. We like it.”
Dr. Jerry Yon, the commission member who chairs the drug research council, said he hopes the group will approve an anabolic steroid policy at the Aug. 11 meeting. However, if there substantial concerns, the policy will be not pushed through, but will continue to be reviewed.
“We’re going to work with all of the different people who have something to bring to the table to develop a consensus," Yon said. "Yes, I’d like to see a recommendation. We’re on a fast track, but we want it done right. If we hit a glitch where we’re lacking science or consensus, we may have to push the schedule back a month but it will still be our top priority.”