Kentucky to Consider Making EPO Prohibited Practice

The Kentucky Racing Commission said June 25 it would consider at its next meeting in September a motion to make the possession or use of erythropoietin, known as EPO, a prohibited practice.

The California Horse Racing Board in early June followed the lead of the Association of Racing Commissioners International and began the process to adopt a similar regulation. The New York Racing Association already uses it as a "house rule."

EPO and related substances such as darbepoietin are believed to enhance performance in both human and equine athletes. There currently is no test for EPO in racehorses, though researchers are said to be close. RCI has been instrumental in facilitating EPO research.

RCI president Lonny Powell said the New Jersey Racing Commission is expected to consider a model rule for prohibited practices at its meeting June 26. Powell said the "prohibited practice" designation was meant to encompass more than one substance.

The Kentucky commission also granted Dr. Thomas Tobin of the University of Kentucky eight more weeks to complete a study of into various medications. The cost of the study, being done for the state's Equine Drug Council, was set at $360,000, but about $178,000 remains, commission officials said.

The drug council again recommended that Dr. Richard Sams of Ohio State University be hired as an adviser for both the council and the commission. Frank Jones Jr., vice chairman of the racing commission, said the state's equine drug-testing contract calls for an adviser, who could be hired effective July 1.

The fly in the ointment is the fact Kentucky has no budget, and may not have the money to hire a commission adviser July 1. A commission attorney earlier issued an opinion that state statute wouldn't allow the drug council to hire Sams.

The Kentucky Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association, which employs Tobin as an adviser, has fought the council's attempt to hire Sams. Its former counsel also cited the statute when it voiced its opposition.

In other business, the commission reversed a license review panel recommendation that Gus Theodosis, a jockeys' valet, not be licensed because of his conviction for a Class D felony. The conviction for a sexual crime is on appeal.

Theodosis will be permitted to work as a licensed valet but must continue to undergo counseling. Jockey Pat Day said he has known Theodosis for 20 years, and spoke on his behalf before the racing commission.