Texas Racing Commission Announces Anabolic Steroid Testing, Toe Grab Rule to Begin January 1, 2009

At the October 7, 2008, meeting of the Texas Racing Commission (TxRC), Dr. Stewart Marsh, Chief Veterinarian, presented an update on anabolic steroid testing and toe grabs. He reported that the Commission will begin anabolic steroid testing starting on January 1, 2009, under the Commission’s existing rule authority. As a result, horsemen should no longer administer anabolic steroids to any horse intended for competition. Also starting on January 1, the Commission will instruct the racetrack associations to use House Rules to limit toe grabs on Thoroughbred horses to two millimeters. Concurrently, the Commission will undergo the rule making process to adopt the Racing Commissioners’ International (RCI) model rule on anabolic steroid testing and a comprehensive rule to address limitations on toe grabs and other traction devices.

According to Charla Ann King, Executive Director of the Texas Racing Commission, the Commission has been studying the use and impact of anabolic steroids on racehorses through its Safety and Medication Working Group. In coordination with the industry, the Commission has conducted an anabolic steroid study based on 40 on-track horses in training. The results of this study as well as other states studies are pending. Further modifications and refinements to the RCI model rule on anabolic steroid testing may be proposed based on the results of these studies.

The Commission will move forward on the RCI Model Rule on Anabolic Steroid Testing and a comprehensive toe grab rule at its December 2, 2008, meeting. After receiving public comment, the rules would be ready for final adoption in February 2009. This schedule will allow the Commission to adopt specific threshold concentrations for anabolic steroids that would be consistent with study results and national uniform guidelines. It also will meet the Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association’s recommended schedule for maintaining graded stakes races.

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