West Virginia Prepares Emergency Rules for Medication

Industry representatives in West Virginia met by teleconference Oct. 15 to devise emergency rules to govern use of adjunct bleeder medications and to ban the practice of blood-doping.

Horsemen, association officials, and stewards from Charles Town Races and Mountaineer Race Track & Gaming Resort participated in the discussion, which produced a plan by the West Virginia Racing Commission to request emergency rules related to equine medication.

Only phenylbutazone (Bute) and furosemide (Salix) are allowed by law at the state's two Thoroughbred racetracks. Joe Cuomo, director of audits and racing for the racing commission, said in an earlier letter that adjunct bleeder medications (amicar and tranex) are being used in racehorses even though there is no legislative approval for them.

In addition, the Thoroughbred Racing Protective Bureau passed on anonymous tips that blood-doping agents were being used in horses that race at Charles Town, according to a letter to the racing commission.

Adjunct bleeder medications are legal in neighboring Maryland. The Maryland Racing Commission Laboratory handles drug testing for West Virginia.

The West Virginia Racing Commission met Oct. 11 but held off on recommending emergency medication rules pending the Oct. 15 discussion. There also has been talk of reviving a medication committee in the state.

In West Virginia, the racing commission need only file a request for an emergency rule to implement the policy. The legislature then considers it at its earliest convenience.

Under the proposal, adjunct bleeder medications, including Kentucky Red, can only be used in conjunction with Salix. It would be illegal for a non-Salix user to have the adjunct medications in its system. Like in Maryland, horses treated with other bleeder medications would be marked with an "A" in the official track program.

A second emergency rule would ban the use of blood-doping agents such as erythropoeitin. Penalties for violators of the two emergency rules have not been set.