Racing Integrity and Drug Testing Task Force Report Executive Summary

Introduction
The pari-mutuel racing industry is dependent on the confidence the betting public has in the integrity of racing. Because horse racing is funded via legal wagering, the stability, growth, and public acceptance of the sport is reliant on the industry's ability to demonstrate the highest level of integrity and to enforce its rules fairly. State racing commissions are statutorily authorized to promulgate and enforce the rules of racing.

Post-race drug testing is a component of this enforcement. This testing is conducted to ensure that performance-altering drugs are not administered and that permitted, therapeutic medications are given properly. If a finding falls outside the parameters set up by an individual jurisdiction, action may be taken against the trainer, who, under a variety of rules, is responsible for the condition of the horse on race-day.

Horses, like other athletes, sometimes suffer minor training injuries that necessitate the administration of accepted therapeutic medications. The rules of racing dictate acceptable levels and types of medications. Those rules vary from state to state, however, creating challenges and complexity for all licensees, i.e., what is permitted in one state may constitute a rule violation in another.

The Task Force

In 1998, the National Thoroughbred Racing Association formed the Racing Integrity and Drug Testing Task Force to review drug-testing issues affecting Thoroughbred and Quarter Horse racing in the United States. The task corce's mission is to work in a complementary manner with state racing commissions to improve drug testing procedures and standards and reinforce public confidence in the integrity of the sport.

The Task Force members are:

Co-Chair Dr. Jack K. Robbins, president of Oak Tree Racing Association and distinguished life member and former president of the American Association of Equine Practitioners;

Co-Chair Ogden Mills Phipps, chairman of The Jockey Club, New York Racing Association trustee, and an NTRA board member;

Rogers Beasley, director of racing at Keeneland;

Buddy Bishop of Stoll, Keenon and Park LLP, a leading firm in equine law based in Lexington, Ky.

Gary Biszantz, chairman of the Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association and a racehorse owner;

Edward S. Bonnie, one of the country's foremost legal experts on drug testing, served in an advisory role in the production of the McKinsey report, "Building a World-Class Drug Detection System for the Racing Industry," a seminal study of equine drug testing;

Don Dizney, owner of Double Diamond Farm in Ocala, Fla., and chairman of United Medical Corporation;

Alan Foreman, chairman and chief executive officer of the Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association and one of the country's foremost legal experts on drug testing;

Dr. Gary Lavin, distinguished life member and past president of the American Association of Equine Practitioners;

Paul Oreffice, New York Racing Association Trustee and former chairman of Dow Chemical Co.; and

Bill Walmsley, spokesman for and past president of the National Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association, current president of the Arkansas HBPA, and an NTRA board member

The executive director of the task force is Jim Gallagher, who accepted the position in August 1999 after 22 years with the New York State Racing and Wagering Board in various policy-making positions. The task force director of methods and procedures is Dr. Scot A. Waterman, a graduate of the University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine and the University of
Arizona Race Track Industry Program.

Scientific Advisory Committee

The first act of the task force was to put together a Scientific Advisory Committee to assess current testing practices. The committee was composed of a group of individuals who had extensive analytical chemistry experience and technical management backgrounds, but were outside of the racing community. The report made by this committee, "Equine Drug Testing: An Assessment of Current Practices and Recommendations for Improvements," has served as a guide for the activities of the task force.

The Supertest Program
The first project undertaken by the Task Force has been the Supertest program. The purpose of the Supertest project is to determine what drugs are in use and to improve drug-testing standards through a national survey of samples. Although the original goal was to conduct this testing on samples from horses competing in graded stakes, the project grew to include races representative of each participating jurisdiction. This type of nationwide examination originally was suggested in "Building a World-Class Drug Detection System for the Racing Industry," commonly referred to as the McKinsey report.

In the Supertest program, aliquots from urine samples that tested negative for prohibited substances were submitted anonymously and subjected to a more comprehensive testing regimen than currently conducted by any individual jurisdiction. Twenty-eight of the 32 jurisdictions (88%) conducting racing in the United States participated by submitting samples representative of racing in their states.

The collection of samples for Supertest analysis began in April 2000. The Task Force contracted with Cornell University's Equine Drug Testing Program and the University of California-Davis' Analytical Chemistry Laboratory to analyze selected samples.

The techniques for testing employed by the respective laboratories were slightly different but both facilities used state-of-the-art drug detection procedures and adhered to best laboratory practices. The test procedures employed by Cornell University's Equine Drug Testing Program included Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbant Assay (ELISA), High Performance Liquid Chromatography (HPLC), and Thin Layer Chromatography (TLC) for screening and target testing, with Gas Chromatography/Mass Spectrometry (GC/MS), HPLC and Liquid Chromatography/Mass Spectrometry (LC/MS) used for drug confirmations.

The University of California-Davis' Analytical Chemistry Laboratory subjected Supertest samples to an instrumentally based drug-testing program. Screening techniques employed LC/MS and and GC/MS rather than TLC procedures. In addition, all samples were subjected to a broad array of ELISA tests. Drug confirmations were done by LC/MS or GC/MS.

The Supertest focused on Class 1, 2 and 3 drugs in the Association of Racing Commissioners International (RCI) Guidelines for Foreign Substances, due to their relative potential to influence the performance of the horse. There was some testing for RCI Class 4 medications-specifically, steroidal anti- inflammatories and non-steroidal anti-inflammatories other than
phenylbutazone, flunixin (Banamine®), naproxen (Naprosyn®), and meclofenamic acid (Arquel®).

The findings presented herein are from the first 1,272 samples of a total of 1,800 to be analyzed. Only RCI Class 1, 2 and 3 drugs will be discussed because not enough samples have been analyzed for the presence of the selected steroidal and non- steroidal Class 4 medications as of the writing of this report. The task force expects to release results for all samples in December 2001.

Continued. . . .

Most Popular Stories