Louisiana Considers Rule to Ban Use of EPO

The Louisiana State Racing Commission's medication committee has asked the full commission to ban the use and possession of human recombinant erythropoietin (EPO) and darbepoietin, as well as consider measures aimed at random pre-race testing for total dissolved carbon dioxide, more commonly known as "milkshaking."

"The medication committee has been active the last several months on several issues," said Dr. Tom Grimstad, committee chairman in a statement released by the racing commission. "All of these issues pertain to the testing and identification of substances, intended to enhance animal performance that alters unfairly the results of racing in Louisiana.

"In addition, the medication committee emphasizes that every horse eligible to race in Louisiana will be subject to random testing, both on and off track, and pre-race evaluation to possibly include testing for elevated levels of total dissolved carbon dioxide."

In the statement released by the racing commission, the rules under consideration would prohibit from racing any horse whose blood tests positive for the presence of EPO antibodies until such time as the horse tests negative. Additionally, a considered amendment to the claiming rule would allow a successful claimant to void a claim on any horse testing positive for the presence of EPO antibodies.

The use and possession of erythropoietin and darbepoietin, themselves, if detected out-of-competition, would incur penalties consistent with the recent classification of those substances as Class 1 violations. The detection of the antibodies for these substances by a routine immunoassay test, however, would result in no sanction against the trainer of disqualification from a purse, but would instead trigger the ban from competition until a negative test result could be obtained.

"The Louisiana Racing Commission knows that the majority of men and women in this industry are hard working and honest individuals," said Grimstad. "It is unfortunate that so much time, energy, and capital is spent on a few who abuse the system. The medication committee has been directed by chairman Bob Wright to do everything in its power to ensure that racing in Louisiana is fair so that all participants compete on a level playing field."