Lexington doctor to head equine drug research panel

Gov. Steve Beshear on Wednesday appointed Dr. Jerry Yon of Lexington to head the Equine Drug Research Council.

Yon is a gastroenterologist. He was appointed to the Kentucky Horse Racing Authority by Republican Gov. Ernie Fletcher; he was reappointed by Beshear to the reorganized Kentucky Horse Racing Commission last week.

The drug council advises the racing authority on medication rules and research.

“Dr. Yon is committed to working toward improving the way we regulate the horse racing industry in Kentucky. As chair, I am confident he will provide the leadership necessary for the council to make recommendations to the commission to accomplish those goals,” Beshear said in a news release.

The council has been weighing a ban on anabolic steroids and is likely to recommend a rule before the commission's August meeting.

Racing commission chairman Bob Beck Jr. said Wednesday that Yon has worked on drug issues for the authority since his appointment.

“He does not have a personal agenda but has the ability to build consensus,” Beck said.

In December, Yon advocated taking up anabolic steroids in the wake of scandals involving baseball.

“We know that it's been a problem in the horse industry, as well (as other sports),” Yon said last year.

Yon replaces Connie Whitfield, a Washington attorney and the wife of Rep. Ed Whitfield, R-Hopkinsville. She has advocated stiffening Kentucky's medication rules. In June, Rep. Whitfield helped led a congressional hearing on breakdowns and medication in Thoroughbred racing.