Dr. Jim Smith, who chairs the committee, told members of the drug council June 16 that the committee is proceeding at a deliberate pace.
“We will be in a fact-finding mode for the next several meetings and no decision will be made,” Smith said. “We want to do it right to protect everybody. It has got to be done right.”
Kentucky State Senator Damon Thayer, who serves as the legislative member of the drug research council, questioned whether having a committee was necessary, considering that the national Racing Medication and Testing Consortium had already drafted a model rule on steroid regulation.
“I am concerned that we are going to have parallel groups making recommendations while we have a national organization committing the industry’s resources to finding the same sort of solutions,” said Thayer, who had made the initial motion at a previous meeting that established the committee. “I regret making the motion to establish the subcommittee to study this issue. As I said at that meeting, I am a little concerned about this issue being ‘committeed to death’ when we already have the RMTC out there doing this work for us. What I am concerned about is that we are going to have dueling recommendations.”
Drug council chair Connie Whitfield, who is also vice chair of the KHRA, said the RMTC model rule is the starting point for the drug research council and the regulatory body as they proceed with formulating a proposed regulation. “This is the best way to expedite what we are all looking to produce, one way or another,” Whitfield said.
Thayer explained that once the drug research council has made a recommendation, it will then go to the KHRA for consideration. After that, it will then be subject to legislative review and approval, a process that could be lengthy.
As an aside, Thayer, had harsh words for a congressional hearing on medication that is scheduled in Washington, D.C. on June 20. Thayer said he believed regulation of drugs in horse racing is a state issue that should not involve the federal government and that the panel is “objectionable.”
Thayer labeled the hearing a “dog-and-pony show” and questioned whether Congress would have the ability to regulate horse racing when it could not help resolve the nation’s economic problems.
His statement led to a verbal clash with Whitfield, whose husband, Rep. Ed Whitfield, is one of the organizers of the congressional hearings. Both Thayer and Whitfield are Republicans.