Pennsylvania Considering Test for EPO Antibodies

Industry officials, during a preliminary meeting Dec. 2 at Philadelphia Park, discussed testing for erythropoietin antibodies that could be implemented in Pennsylvania and perhaps a few other Mid-Atlantic states in 2004.

The meeting was attended by Sal Sinatra, director of racing at Philly Park; Ben Nolt, executive secretary of the Pennsylvania State Racing Commission; and Mike Ballezzi, executive director of the Pennsylvania Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association. It was designed to "get all our thoughts on the table," Sinatra said.

"We'd like to develop our own test, but we're looking at how Delaware and New York are doing things," Sinatra said.

It would take at least 90-120 days for an EPO antibody test to be developed, and that time frame would also give horsemen who may be using the blood-doping agent in horses an opportunity to stop before testing commences, he said.

Sinatra said Pennsylvania's plan could also include New Jersey and Maryland, two states that currently do not test for EPO antibodies. The administration of EPO is categorized as a "prohibited practice" by national regulators' associations.

Similar to current drug-testing procedures in Pennsylvania, winners, "specials," and claimed horses would be subject to the EPO test, Sinatra said.