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Bloodstock Desk: Vets call for steroids to be banned at US sales.

Byline: Rachel Pagones

ANABOLIC steroid use should be banned in horses on public sale-grounds, say recommendations agreed on by the American Association of Equine Practitioners at a meeting in Seattle, Washington this month, writes Rachel Pagones. The AAEP's guidelines differ from those adopted by the K entucky-based Sales Integrity Program's Code of Ethics last year, which classified the use of anabolic steroids as acceptable, although regular use of the drugs in sale preparation was discouraged.

However, the SIP modified its code before the major US yearling sales this year, stripping it of all mention of disclosure of veterinary procedures. The code, which can be accessed on, now confines itself to issues of ownership, agency and education.

Against that background, the AAEP launched a Task Force on Medication Issues at Public Auction. The goal was to set up a system in which public-auction buyers have the best chance of establishing a horse's fair market value, while discouraging the use of medication that can obscure health problems. The task force, chaired by Lexington, Kentucky veterinary surgeon Dr Larry Bramlage, a former AAEP president who was instrumental in creating the veterinary guidelines for the original Code of Ethics, also called for sale companies to be the "principal enforcers" of its recommendations.

Before drawing its conclu-sions, the task force evaluated medication in sale horses during three separate time periods - pre-sale, while on the sale-grounds, and post-sale - and grouped the drugs commonly given to horses during these stages into categories.

It recommends that the following medications be allowed at therapeutic levels in horses on the sale-grounds: one non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug with no detectable level of a second NSAID; one corticosteroid (excluding Depomedrol), with no detectable level of a second corticosteroid; medications labelled for ongoing therapy of gastric ulcers; tranquilisers; oral antiarthritic medications such as proteoglycan supplements; and progestins.

The following drugs would not be permitted on salegrounds except at trace levels: treatments commonly recognised as therapeutic for equine protozoal myeloencephalitis; bronchodilators such as clenbuterol; vaso-active drugs such as aspirin, isoxuprine, and pentoxifylline; and parenteral anti-arthritics such as injectable proteoglycan supplements.

Drugs that would be allowable at therapeutic levels, but would have to be declared in the veterinary repository or announced by the auctioneer, are cyproheptadine, pergolide, and antibiotics.

Anabolic steroids, stimulants, muscle relaxants, and diuretics would not be allowed at any level.

The AAEP board of directors approved the recommendations on December 2. Other members of the task force include veterinary surgeons Craig Van Balen, Jeffrey Berk, Sam Ferguson, Roger Murphy and Scott Pierce.
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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:The Racing Post (London, England)
Date:Dec 16, 2005
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