National Horsemen's Group Setting Racehorse Steroid Policy

The National Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association is formulating a position on regulation of anabolic steroids in racehorses.

The National HBPA has affiliates in about 30 jurisdictions, some of which already have adopted rules to regulate use of steroids at race meets in 2008. With a two- to -three-month suggested withdrawal period prior to a horse's race, the regulations in effect ban steroids for all but therapeutic uses when horses are sidelined.

The National HBPA hopes to have its position finalized by its winter convention Jan. 25-28 in New Orleans.

"We're actually working on that right now," Kent Stirling, executive director of the Florida HBPA and chairman of the National HBPA Medication Committee, said Dec. 27. "We are for the regulation of anabolic steroids, but not the banning of them. Steroids can be a good therapeutic medication."

Stirling, who sits on the Racing Medication and Testing Consortium, said the model rule issued by the RMTC and Association of Racing Commissioners International "still needs some work." He said the issue has been complicated by the fact some jurisdictions are modifying the model rule, so there is no uniformity.

"We support (the model rule), but it's not quite ready for prime time," Stirling said. "We agree steroids need to be regulated, but I think the way the rules are written, we're jumping the gun. I think it's going to be a late-in-2008 deal."

Stirling said there are issues with testing for steroids in urine, with blood the better option. There is disagreement in the industry on what should be used for testing, as well as ongoing debate over withdrawal times and threshold levels. Another complicating factor, he said, is that some states will have regulations in place but others won't.

"Some states want to ban them, but adjoining states don't," Stirling said. "The train has left the station, but everybody is changing the model rule. I'd like to see (regulation of steroids) adopted uniformly and at least regionally."

The six states in the Mid-Atlantic region all expect to have regulations in place by spring of 2008. California, Indiana, Kentucky, and New York either have rules in place or expect to in the near future.

The push to regulate steroids in racehorses largely stemmed from industry concerns about public perception given the fact use of steroids isn't accepted in other sports. In addition, other countries ban the use of steroids in racehorses.

(Originally published at

About the Author

Tom LaMarra

Tom LaMarra, a native of New Jersey and graduate of Rutgers University, has been news editor at The Blood-Horse since 1998. After graduation he worked at newspapers in New Jersey and Pennsylvania as an editor and reporter with a focus on municipal government and politics. He also worked at Daily Racing Form and Thoroughbred Times before joining The Blood-Horse. LaMarra, who has lived in Lexington since 1994, has won various writing awards and was recognized with the Old Hilltop Award for outstanding coverage of the horse racing industry. He likes to spend some of his spare time handicapping races.

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