(http://www.bloodhorse.com/ – by Tom LaMarra)

As expected, states in the Mid-Atlantic region have announced they are working to implement a ban on anabolic steroids in racehorses effective April 1, 2008.

The regulations in Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and West Virginia will employ the model rule devised by the Racing Medication and Testing Consortium and endorsed by the Association of Racing Commissioners International.

A joint release was issued Nov. 30. It said the April 1 date was chosen because horses need up to 120 days to clear any trace of steroids from their systems.

In mid-October, The Blood-Horse reported the six states hoped to have the regulations in place by April 1, 2008. Representatives of regulatory bodies in the region met the week of Oct. 1 to discuss the race-day steroids ban, among other things.

Alan Foreman, chief executive officer of the Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association and chairman of the regular meetings of the group of Mid-Atlantic regulators, at the time said the states were heading in the same direction. “They’ll move relatively swiftly and in unison,” Foreman said.

On Nov. 28, the Pennsylvania Horse Racing Commission and Pennsylvania Harness Racing Commission both announced plans to prohibit use of anabolic and androgenic steroids in racehorses effective April 1, 2008, and March 1, 2008, respectively. Pennsylvania regulators were keen to get the word out given a recommendation that steroid use should be stopped as of Dec. 1 to ensure there are no positive tests this coming spring.

The Mid-Atlantic announcement comes just days before the start of the University of Arizona Symposium on Racing and Gaming, at which many industry groups have satellite meetings. Medication regulation figures prominently in various discussions.

Mid-Atlantic regulators earlier in the decade were successful in adopting similar rules for race-day medication. Uniformity is considered especially critical in the region because many horses ship from state to state on a daily basis to race.

Said Peter Burnett, chairman of the Virginia Racing Commission: “Other countries already ban the use of anabolic steroids in racing, and this is an important step in improving the integrity of horse racing in the United States.”