NTRA Racing Integrity and Drug Testing Task Force Executive Summary (Cont.)

As a prelude to the release of the first phase of the Supertest results, two detailed surveys were sent to the 28 racing jurisdictions that submitted samples for Supertest analysis and to the four jurisdictions that did not submit samples. The surveys were returned by 30 of the 32 jurisdictions, a 94% response rate. The two jurisdictions not returning the survey were also two of the jurisdictions that did not participate in the Supertest. These results constitute the first-ever benchmark survey of equine drug testing practices and procedures in the United States.

The benchmark study serves two purposes. First, it constitutes an archive of information that can be communicated to state racing commissions so that they can make more informed decisions regarding their own jurisdiction's procedures. Second, it provides a national context for the Supertest results.

In this report, jurisdictions are designated by random letters to ensure confidentiality and avoid compromising any state's current testing program or exposing any jurisdiction to undue criticism.

NTRA Racing Integrity and Drug Testing Task Force Executive Summary

The NTRA Racing Integrity and Drug Testing Task Force Report, the result of two years of research into drug testing of racehorses competing in the United States, is both the first-ever comprehensive survey of the country's current testing programs and practices (representing 30 of 32 racing jurisdictions, or 94 %) as well as a summary of Supertest findings from post-race test samples submitted by 28 of those 32 jurisdictions (88%).

A total of 1,800 samples were submitted for the Supertest, with this report covering the results of 1,272 samples (71%) for the presence of Class 1, 2 and 3 drugs in the Association of Racing Commissioners International (RCI) Guidelines for Foreign Substances. Results from the remaining 528 samples,
including the results for selected Class 4 medications, are to be released before the end of 2001.

Key Findings from the Jurisdiction Survey

Screening of Laboratory Samples: Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbant Assays (ELISA) and Thin Layer Chromatography (TLC) remain the dominant screening methodologies. ELISA is drug-specific, while TLC can detect multiple drugs, but generally not at low concentrations (below 100 nanograms/ml).

All responding jurisdictions use ELISA testing, with 93% also using TLC. The average number of ELISA tests used per sample is 20.3, or 14.2% of the 143 ELISA kits available, while the median is 15. Jurisdictions report widespread reliance on "group" ELISA kits, which test for multiple drugs, and rotation of ELISA tests on a random basis.

Drug Classifications: RCI has classified drugs into five categories based on pharmacology, ability to influence the outcome of a race, therapeutic value in the racehorse or other evidence that they may be used improperly.

The task force survey, covering 508,737 samples tested between 1997-1999, found 385 reported violations for 45 different medications categorized as Class 1, 2 or 3-those that have the highest to moderate potential, respectively, to affect performance in the racehorse. Only 10 of the 45 medications were detected on more than 10 occasions. Four of the 10, (clenbuterol, promazine, glycopyrrolate and lidocaine), are routinely used for therapeutic purposes.

Threshold Levels for Select Drugs and Therapeutic Medications:

Regulatory thresholds refer to the point at which administrative action is taken against a trainer for the presence of a prohibited drug or an unacceptably high level of a permitted, therapeutic medication. What constitutes an actionable medication finding in one state may be ignored in another.

Jurisdictions surveyed on threshold levels for nine drugs overwhelmingly reported "zero tolerance" levels for the following: acepromazine/promazine (22/28), albuterol (24/28), atropine (25/28), caffeine (22/28), clenbuterol (19/26), cocaine (24/28), morphine (25/27) and scopolamine (26/27).

Animal Selection in the Testing Process:

Eighty-two percent of all jurisdictions test only the race winner, with 18% testing the one-two finishers. In stakes races, 63% of jurisdictions report selecting additional finishers, usually the second- and third-place horses. Other horses that may be selected include beaten favorites, runners showing dramatic form reversals and instances where racing commissions have investigative leads.

Test Research and Methods Development:

Pari-mutuel wagering is the single largest funding source for improvements in drug testing methodologies, contributing $1.35 million or 25% of all monies allocated to equine medical
research through the pari-mutuel mechanism. The bulk of this money is spent in four states with university laboratories equipped to conduct equine drug detection.

Expenditures on Drug Testing:

Based on modeled survey results, it is estimated that individual jurisdictions spend between $70 and $325 per race on sample testing. Although this difference appears significant, there is
an imperfect correlation between testing expenditures and effective testing. Sixty-eight percent of jurisdictions surveyed report that lab services and collection expenses are borne by racing commissions.

Continued. . . .

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