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Racing Commission Toughens Drug Testing Rule

By Sheila AshThe Kentucky Horse Racing Commission Tuesday approved changes to rules for testing horses for performance enhancing drugs on days they don’t race.Violators could be suspended for five to ten years and face a $50,000 fine.Richard Sams, the director of the testing laboratory for the KHRC, says he supports the penalty because of the harm the drugs can cause a horse."In some horses to which these substances have been administered the immune response results in a severe anemia and in some cases can lead to death. So not only are they potentially performance enhancing, they are potentially unjurious to a horse that receives these substances," he said during a commission meeting in Louisville.The new testing is intended to catch performance enhancing drugs that have been in a horse’s system long enough to avoid detection, but can still be effective.Regulators want the rule in place in time for the Breeders’ Cup at Churchill Downs in November.

Rick Howlett is host of WFPL's weekly talk show, "In Conversation." Email Rick at rhowlett@lpm.org.