Anne M. Eberhardt

Steroid Policy Implemented at Sales

Keeneland and Fasig-Tipton announced a new anabolic steroid policy for auctions.

Keeneland Association and Fasig-Tipton Co. officials jointly announced Nov. 15 that the policy regarding exogenous anabolic steroids will be implemented for weanlings and yearlings beginning with their 2008 sales.

Keeneland and Fasig-Tipton – the world’s largest and North America’s oldest Thoroughbred auction houses, respectively – have taken the position that no exogenous anabolic steroids be administered within 45 days of sale. Exogenous steroids are those not generated by a horse's system.

Beginning in January 2008, the buyer of a weanling or yearling may request that testing be performed at the time of purchase. If the sale horse tests positive for exogenous anabolic steroids, the buyer will have the right, within 24 hours of notification, to rescind the sale.

“This is not a competitive issue; this is an integrity issue," Nick Nicholson, president and chief executive officer of Keeneland, and Walt Robertson, president of Fasig-Tipton, said in a joint statement. "By establishing a policy, and developing testing procedures that are practical and fair to all involved, we safeguard the credibility of the entire Thoroughbred industry."

The move comes as various racing jurisdictions in the United States are considering model rules governing the use of anabolic steroids in racehorses. Keeneland and Fasig-Tipton, however, are the first national Thoroughbred auction companies to call for a policy regarding exogenous anabolic steroid use in sale horses.

The Kentucky Horse Racing Authority has discussed but not adopted steroid regulations. Still, the two sale companies will implement their own policy as private entities.

According to a Nov. 15 release, the policy will be implemented as follows:

• The buyer has the right to request, at the time of purchase, that blood be drawn to test for the presence of exogenous anabolic steroids;

• The respective sale company will coordinate testing with a designated veterinarian and report the results of those tests to the consignor and buyer in a timely manner;

• If the sale horse tests positive for exogenous anabolic steroids, the buyer has the right, within 24 hours of notification, to rescind the sale and return the horse to the consignor;

• The buyer will bear the $500 cost of the test; however, if the test results are positive, the cost will shift to the consignor.

Exogenous anabolic steroids, which are federally controlled substances classified for therapeutic use in racing and sale horses in the U.S., remain under review by the Racing Medication and Testing Consortium. Keeneland and Fasig-Tipton formed a committee comprised of representatives from the two sale companies, the Consignors and Commercial Breeders Association, local veterinarians, and leading authorities on steroids and drug testing, to establish a policy for sale horses.

The steroid regulations will take effect at the same time as new auction-integrity rules formulated by the Sales Integrity Task Force.