by | 11.17.2010 | 12:46am
By Ray PaulickThe Kentucky Horse Racing Commission, stung by the recent disclosure by its former chief veterinarian that no testing for TCO2 loading (also known as milkshakes) was conducted at the Ellis Park Thoroughbred meeting this summer, is facing another embarrassment involving its impotence over positive tests for blood-doping agents in four horses at the Red Mile harness track in Lexington, the Paulick Report has learned.High-placed sources at the horse racing commission and Kentucky's Equine Drug Research Council told the Paulick Report that out-of-competition testing on at least four horses detected a form of erythropoietin, which helps increase the production of red blood cells and has been used in both human and equine sports to illegally enhance performance. It is virtually impossible to detect in normal post-race tests because the drug is given up to two weeks before a race and can only be detected for about 48 hours thereafter. Cycling and other human sports rely on out-of-competition testing to catch blood-doping cheaters.

Because the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission has no rules on the book regulating the results of out-of-competition testing, it is unable to prosecute any of the positive tests or penalize those involved. Officials at the Red Mile, according to sources, have merely barred the horses from further competition at the current meeting, which ends on Saturday. Rules concerning out-of-competition testing at the Red Mile can be found

here.Red Mile president Joe Costa could not be reached for comment.

“The state does not have rules for out-of-competition testing,” said Jim Carroll, a communications officer for Kentucky's Public Protection Cabinet. “I would refer you to the Red Mile. The track has authority.”

Carroll would not confirm whether the indefinite suspensions announced on Thursday of two veterinarians, Rick Mather and Rick Rothfuss of Columbus, Ohio, were related to the alleged positive blood-doping tests. A press release from the commission said two Kentucky Horse Racing Commission investigators searched two trucks owned by the veterinarians and seized records and unidentified substances, which are being sent to a laboratory for testing. Richard Williams, the commission's presiding judge for Standardbred racing, imposed the suspension after reviewing the physical evidence. A hearing on the suspension is pending.

“It's gotten ridiculous,” one prominent Standardbred horsemen told the Paulick Report. “We have more vets driving around on the backstretch than we have horses back there.”

One state that takes a harsher view of blood-doping positive tests and possession of illegal blood-doping agents is New Jersey, whose racing commission routinely conducts out-of-competition testing. The

New Jersey Commission has issued bans of more than 15 years for horsemen and veterinarians caught in blood-doping schemes, and in one case criminal charges have been filed.

Copyright © 2008, The Paulick Report

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