Kentucky Gets Tough on Steroids

On 25 August 2008 the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission will convene for its regular meeting. However, this scheduled meeting will be focusing on a very important decision, recommended by the Kentucky horse racing officials and approved by the Kentucky Equine Drug Research Council – to ban anabolic steroids completely. The penalties and suspensions involved in regard to violations of the new ban will be the strictest the horse racing industry has ever seen.

Officials are chiefly concerned about the generic versions of the steroid stanozolol, better known as Winstrol (which has gone off the market). But allowing one drug and not the other, causes confusion and blurred lines, and therefore all steroids will carry a ban under the law. Naturally occurring anabolic steroids, such as Testosterone, Boldenone and Nandrolone, will be permitted to be administered by a veterinarian for therapeutic reasons, but if tests show that a horse is over the normal natural level, it will be seen as a violation.

The new rules and regulations in regard to steroid use will therefore mean that no anabolic steroid use for racehorses will be permitted. If any horse tests positive for an anabolic steroid, trainers can face a suspension of up to three years. Anabolic steroids will be viewed as a Class A violation of the regulations. If a horse has been treated with a naturally occurring steroid, the horse must be clean for a minimum of sixty days before it will be permitted to enter a racing event. A horse that tests positive for a natural occurring steroid will be seen as a Class B violation and trainers will be suspended for sixty days. The new law also changes the face of claiming races. When a horse is claimed, the purchaser can request a drug test, but will carry the cost of the testing. The claimant will be permitted to void the claim if he chooses, should the horse test positive.

With various venues and states beginning to clamp down on steroid use, including organizers of the Breeder’s Cup who have banned steroids from this year’s event, Kentucky horse racing officials feel the need to step up and be an example to others. Governor Steve Beshear was quoted saying: “Kentucky is the horse capital of the world,” he commented. “We must be a leader in ensuring the health and integrity of horses and of this vitally important industry. A ban on anabolic steroids is an important part of that process.”