The University of California-Davis Kenneth L. Maddy Laboratory and HFL Sport Science in Lexington became the first two fully accredited laboratories under the Racing Medication and Testing Consortium Laboratory Accreditation program June 11.
In addition to granting full accreditation to those laboratories, the RMTC Horseracing Testing Laboratories Committee also recommended the Ohio Department of Agriculture for interim accreditation status. The initial review and External Quality Assurance Program requirements are awaiting a site inspection from RMTC.
"The accreditation of these two laboratories marks the culmination of many months of effort by each of these laboratories to demonstrate that they meet the strict standards of expertise and proficiency required by the program," said Dr. Robert Lewis, chairperson of the RMTC board. "The accreditation process is an important step forward in protecting the welfare of our equine and human athletes as well as the integrity of horse racing."
Lewis said five other laboratories have applied for RMTC laboratory accreditation: Truesdail Laboratory (Tustin, Calif.), Dalare Associates (Philadelphia, Pa.), New York Drug Testing and Research Program (Morrisville, N.Y.), Pennsylvania Equine Toxicology and Research Laboratory (West Chester, Pa.), and Industrial Laboratories (Wheat Ridge, Colo.) The eight laboratories that have applied for RMTC accreditation represent 26 of the 34 jurisdictions responsible for pari-mutuel horse racing in the United States.
"The goal is to have 100% of the laboratories testing horse racing samples RMTC accredited," said Dr. Dionne Benson, executive director and chief operating officer of the RMTC. "We encourage these laboratories and all horse racing testing laboratories to continue to pursue RMTC accreditation. The purpose of the RMTC accreditation process and quality assurance program is to ensure that all laboratories are operating at the same high level of proficiency."
RMTC accreditation requires a drug testing laboratory to satisfy a number of requirements. Before an application for RMTC accreditation can be processed, the laboratory must first become ISO 17025 certified–an internationally recognized accreditation program covering general requirements for the competence of testing and calibration labs, as well as specific requirements for animal drug testing.
After obtaining ISO accreditation, the laboratories must then submit to the RMTC an application and undergo a multi-part assessment. That begins with a document review of the laboratory's processes by an independent auditor with specific experience in horse racing laboratory operations.
Once the documentation is reviewed, the laboratory must also submit to a multi-day site inspection by another independent assessor. The individuals performing the work on behalf of RMTC have significant experience in the area of equine drug control, horse racing laboratory operations, and inspection of both human and horse anti-doping laboratories.
Finally, the laboratories must successfully complete two rounds of the RMTC EQAP proficiency sample testing before being granted accreditation. The testing provides independent verification of the laboratory's ability to detect, identify, and quantify (if appropriate) substances of concern in horse racing, including regulated substances at concentrations that are mandated by the RMTC model rule recommendations.
Furthermore, laboratories are required to successfully complete twice-yearly EQAP proficiency testing before they are eligible for accreditation, and must continue to successfully complete two rounds each year to maintain accreditation.
"The professionalism and expertise of the laboratory assessors is crucial to a process such as the RMTC accreditation program," said Dr. Richard Sams, director of the HFL Sport Science lab in Lexington. "We were very impressed with the individuals chosen by the RMTC for this task—they were highly qualified scientists who are extremely knowledgeable about the industry."