Md. panel targets steroids

December 19, 2007|By Sandra McKee | Sandra McKee,Sun reporter

Following a national trend, the Maryland Racing Commission said yesterday that it is "resolved" to implement a ban on anabolic steroids beginning with the Pimlico race meet April 17.

Maryland will follow the recommendations set forth in a Dec. 17 meeting by the Association of Racing Commissioners International and the Racing Medication and Testing Consortium.

The RMTC is pushing for the regulation of four commonly used steroids - boldenone (Equipose), stanozolol (Winstrol), nandrolone (Durabolin) and testosterone. Under RMTC guidelines, those four steroids would have set concentrations and specific uses, and all other steroids would be banned.

Similar action has already been taken in Pennsylvania, Delaware, Virginia and California. This week, the Kentucky Horse Racing Authority also took the first steps toward adopting the new recommendations in that state.

MRC executive director J. Michael Hopkins said the reason for the delay in implementing the new rules is to allow a 120-day notice to owners, breeders and trainers of the ban because it takes that long to clear drugs from a horse's system.

"I think this is a good thing," said MRC commissioner Gregory H. Barnhill, when asked whether such action should have been taken sooner. "Everything is relative. It's important to do, and the push to do it is now. I'm glad we have the resolution."

Barnhill said the ban "is not being imposed because of any particular incident. But we want to be in step with the industry and with what is going on in the Mid-Atlantic region."

Among other issues taken up yesterday was the first formal introduction of Chris Dragone as the new president and general manager of the Maryland Jockey Club. Dragone, in turn, introduced Dwayne Yuzik as the MJC's new senior vice president of operations.

Yuzik, currently the general manager at Portland Meadows, will be overseeing the MJC operations "and help me in every way," Dragone said. "He'll also have a role in working with the Preakness."

Dragone said he tried to answer the commissioners' concerns about change in the corporate level of Magna Entertainment Corp., which owns both Pimlico and Laurel Park, in an executive session that followed the public meeting. "I assured them we are committed to Maryland," he said.

The commission approved a time change for the Laurel Park winter meet that begins Jan. 1, from 12:10 p.m. to 12:30 p.m. and approved an additional racing day, Jan. 2. It also approved the request for 58 racing days at the Rosecroft harness track for 2008. The number of days is 27 fewer than last year and follows the loss of a deal that would have sold the troubled track to Penn National Gaming last month.

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