That's the word from Richard Shapiro, chairman of the California Horse Racing Board, and Dr. Rick Arthur, the agency's equine medical director.
Rule changes that will reclassify the four most common types of anabolic steroids were approved by the CHRB at its May 20 meeting in Sacramento.
"To ensure you do not have a positive test, the time to stop administering steroids is now," Shapiro said in a letter to the industry released May 23.
The steroids reclassifications, which will be immediately posted for 45-day public notice prior to a July 17 public hearing at Del Mar, go hand-in-hand with a larger regulatory package of penalties and classification changes. That larger package has been slowly moving through the regulatory process and is expected to be fully in place before the Breeders’ Cup, which will be hosted by the Oak Tree Racing Association at Santa Anita Park Oct. 24-25.
The board previously banned all steroids except for the commonly used boldenone, nandrolone, stanozolol, and testoserone, and established very low threshold levels for those four anabolic steroids, three of which are naturally occurring in the horse.
The latest action began the process of reclassifying penalties for those four anabolic steroids. Violations will result in the disqualification of the horse and redistribution of the purse, and those involved would face minimum 30-day suspensions for first offenses. The regulatory process is expected to be completed in September.
Arthur said that the necessary laboratory procedures and official testing of samples will begin July 1.
"We will start issuing complaints and/or warnings for violations after that date," he said in a CHRB report released May 23.
"Testosterone, boldenone, nandrolone, and stanozolol are temporarily Class 4," Arthur added. "All other anabolic steroids already are Class 2 or 3. Complaints will be issued for Class 2 or 3 violations after July 1. However, sanctions for the Class 4 steroids testosterone, boldenone, nandrolone, and stanozolol will be limited to warnings for the first few months until their reclassification to Class 3 is completed."
Arthur also said that:
-- A warning period on the latest reclassifications will probably end in September. The first step in the regulatory process to move testosterone, boldenone, nandrolone, and stanozolol to Class 3 already has been taken. Once this regulatory process is completed, all anabolic steroids will be Class 2 or Class 3. This is expected to be completed in September, at which time complaints will be issued for violations involving excess levels for those four as well.
-- All Class 2 and Class 3 steroid violations will result in purse redistributions and a minimum 30-day suspension for first-time offenders. Any warnings issued after July 1 for the Class 4 steroids testosterone, boldenone, nandrolone, and stanozolol could count as an aggravating factor against anyone who receives a complaint after they become Class 3. Equipoise (boldenone), Durabolin (nandrolone), Winstrol (stanozolol) and testosterone are the most common anabolic steroids used in racing. If you have any questions consult your veterinarian.
-- All anabolic steroids are not being banned. Veterinarians can still have and administer the commonly used anabolic steroids on the racetrack, but the substances cannot be found in post-race tests except at the threshold levels established by CHRB regulations. Threshold levels have been established for testosterone, boldenone, nandrolone, and stanzolol. The first three are naturally occurring, also known as endogenous, in the horse.
-- Withdrawal times are specific to the formulation. As a group, anabolic steroids stay around for a long time, longer than any other group of drugs used in racing. Trainers should be looking at a minimum of 30 days with the water-based anabolic steroids, such as Winstrol and aqueous testosterone. The oil-based anabolic steroids, such as Equipoise, Durabolin, and testosterone will need a minimum of 45 days. We are advocating that administration of these drugs stop at this time. These are recommendations for minimum withdrawal times. There are too many variables involved to be more specific. Dose, route of administration, specific formulation, and multiple doses are all factors that cannot be controlled. Withdrawal times on these drugs are further complicated by the common use of compounded anabolic steroids. Compounded drugs do not have the same quality control standards as drugs manufactured at FDA inspected facilities.
-- A horse can be treated with anabolic steroids, but sufficient time must pass afterward for the administered drug to clear the system, otherwise a positive test could result. The CHRB can arrange pre-entry testing, provided the treatment is correctly documented by the veterinarian. The current drug testing budget for the CHRB allows the agency to provide pre-race testing at no cost to horsemen through the rest of 2008.
-- Pennsylvania and Delaware already are regulating anabolic steroids, and the Racing Medication and Testing Consortium has recommended all jurisdictions have policies to regulate anabolic steroids in place no later than the end of this year. In California, the Ken Maddy Equine Analytical Laboratory at UC-Davis began gearing up early last year for the testing of anabolic steroids once it became clear this was going to be an issue in horse racing. While California might be ahead of most other states, anabolic steroids should be effectively regulated throughout the country by the end of the year.
-- The CHRB has been in close contact with the California Thoroughbred Trainers and other horsemen’s groups in an effort to discuss and educate all parties on the new rules that are being enacted. The CHRB will schedule backside open meetings in Northern and Southern California to address any questions or concerns.