Racing Commissioners International gave final approval April 2 to the "RCI Controlled Therapeutic Medication Schedule," setting the stage for uniform implementation of racing medication rules in the U.S.
The RCI schedule is intended to be a guide for testing laboratories in determining the level at which the presence of a substance would violate the rules and become a violation. It also creates restrictions on administering medications within times certain prior to a race, creating a clear line that horsemen and veterinarians should not cross.
"For years we have talked about uniformity but today is the first day that we can say there is agreement as to what constitutes a violation," said RCI chairman Duncan Patterson, who also is chairman of the Delaware Thoroughbred Racing Commission.
Twenty-four substances deemed appropriate for normal equine care are included on the RCI schedule, which closely follows a Jockey Club proposal on medication policy. Additional substances may be considered for inclusion in the schedule upon recommendation from the American Association of Equine Practitioners or the Racing Medication and Testing Consortium.
According to RCI, approximately 75% of all medication rule violations each year are for overages associated with substances contained on the RCI schedule.
RCI President Ed Martin said regulators are being encouraged to achieve uniformity by adding the RCI schedule to their rules "by reference," a common way to incorporate a nationally recognized standard into public policy.
"If everyone works from the same schedule, we will have uniformity," Martin said, noting that a movement coordinated by the Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association is already underway in several Mid-Atlantic states to implement the RCI schedule.
Substances not contained on the schedule will be considered "prohibited", meaning they should not be present in a post-race sample at any level or at levels exceeding defined limits found elsewhere in the rules.
Patterson indicated a proposal to address overages that may be caused by environmental contaminants submitted by the national Horseman's Protective and Benevolent Association will be discussed at the RCI meetings commending in New Orleans April 23. Also to be discussed will be modifications to the recommended penalty guidelines.