CHRB OKs Stricter Penalties for Steroids

CHRB OKs Stricter Penalties for Steroids
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A steroid-free Breeders’ Cup took another step forward when the California Horse Racing Board reclassified the four most common anabolic steroids, effectively outlawing the substances for horses in training in the state.

Voting unanimously at its July 17 meeting, the CHRB approved an amendment that moves the anabolic steroids boldenone, nandrolone, stanozolol, and testosterone from class 4 to class 3 substances and changes the penalty class from category D to category B. All other anabolic steroids have already been moved into the new substance and penalty categories.

“The purpose of this change today is to make sure that this program is implemented well in advance of the Oak Tree meet,” said Dr. Rick Arthur, California’s equine medical director. “The goal is to have an anabolic steroid-free Breeders’ Cup.”

With newly appointed commissioners Bo Derek and David Israel in attendance for their first meeting, the board approved the measure. It now must go to the Office of Administrative Law, which has up to 30 days to approve the change. It then becomes effective 30 days after it’s filed with the Secretary of State.

Currently, the CHRB is issuing unofficial notices to any trainers with horses that test positive for anabolic steroids. After final approval, such violations will call for automatic forfeiture of the purse and minimum 30-day suspensions for first-time offenders.

“The good news is that we’ve seen an 80% decrease in the use of anabolic steroids, and 92% of horses are passing our regulations entirely,” said Arthur. He added that the violations all appear to involve stanozolol, better known by the trade name Winstrol.

Trainer Christopher Paasch, who is also an owner and breeder, spoke in support of the move to reclassify the steroids. He asked the board to make the rules stricter and to use its influence to enforce the same rules with sales companies.

Dr. Scott Stanley, director of the Ken Maddy Equine Analytical Laboratory, reported that the facility is already working closely with several sales companies, including Barretts, Fasig-Tipton, and Keeneland. Arthur explained that while this rule currently uses urine testing, blood testing should eventually become the norm, which will be an effective way to test for steroids at sales.

The CHRB approved an amendment to prohibit any horse from racing that has undergone a posterior digital neurectomy, or heel nerving. Marsha Naify, chairperson of the Thoroughbred Owners of California, said that the TOC board supports a banning of heel nerving only if it is done nationally. She pointed to research that has shown no connection between heel nerving and fatalities.

CHRB chairman Richard Shapiro, who said he personally supported the ban, said that the issue comes up rarely, with only about 10 horses listed with the CHRB as having been heel nerved.

The board continued to wrestle with the issue of unreported geldings in the racing program. It recommended that trainers whose horses are not properly identified as geldings receive a minimum fine of $1,000. The other option the commissioners considered was automatic scratching of a horse in those cases, which met with resistance from the TOC and racetrack officials. The California Thoroughbred Trainers opposed the severity of the fine.

Initially, the board voted to pass an amendment to the rule regarding the reporting of geldings. However, that amendment did not include a provision to allow for mitigating circumstances in assessing the fine, and so it will go back to the OAL for the inclusion of that language.

The board approved an amendment to allow Thoroughbreds to race without shoes. That also will go back for clarification so that it is limited to Thoroughbreds and does not extend to Quarter Horses or harness horses.

Among the approvals of upcoming race meetings was one for the San Mateo County Fair at Bay Meadows from Aug. 8-17. It is slated to be the final race meeting to be held at Bay Meadows. Chris A. Carpenter, representing the San Mateo County Fair, said that he expects the fair meeting to continue beyond 2008 and that they are in negotiations to find a new location.

Carpenter is the general manager of the San Mateo County Event Center, which is the organization that is overseeing renovation of a building near the Bay Meadows site to house the satellite wagering facility after the race course closes. The board approved the application to operate that facility through the end of the year.

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