THA Issues Testing, Medication Recommendations

THA Issues Testing, Medication Recommendations
Photo: Matt Goins
Alan Foreman, chief executive officer of the THA
The Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association on Nov. 27 issued a list of recommendations that call for a restructuring of medication use and drug testing procedures in horse racing. The THA, which represents about 20,000 horsemen in the Mid-Atlantic region and Illinois, has urged the proposal be considered and adopted no later than April 1, 2002.

The THA report will be on the table Dec. 4 at the American Association of Equine Practitioners' Racehorse Medication Summit in Tucson, Ariz. Other organizations, including the National Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association, also have made recommendations that will be discussed at the summit.

Among the THA recommendations is formation of a non-profit industry consortium that would be funded via a per-start fee for every Thoroughbred, Standardbred, and Quarter Horse. The consortium would oversee all industry drug-testing and medication issues and conduct research into drugs, their pharmacology, and whether and to what extent decision levels can be established.

Alan Foreman, chief executive officer of the THA and an attorney who has handled equine medication cases, said the industry has been "hat in hand" for far too long when it comes to finding money to support medication and drug-testing research. Foreman, who spoke during a Tuesday morning teleconference, said all THA affiliates have indicated support for a per-start fee that would be paid by horse owners in Thoroughbred, Standardbred, and Quarter Horse racing.

The National Thoroughbred Racing Association's Racing Integrity and Drug-Testing Task Force has recommended formation of an drug-testing and medication oversight committee, but no recommendations on funding were made when its report was issued in August.

"We need a funding mechanism," Foreman said. "It's the only way to enhance drug testing in this country."

Foreman said the THA has worked for more than five years with horseman, regulators, veterinarians, and chemists to achieve uniform medication rules, policies, and enforcement regulations in member states. The horsemen's association has affiliates in Delaware, Illinois, Maryland, New Jersey, and New York.

Foreman said he's optimistic that all factions, including the scientific community, will come together in support of the THA plan or at least the need for uniformity in the United States. He said the THA proposal isn't designed to compete with recommendations issued by the National HBPA in October.

"These are not dueling plans," he said. "In fact, much of what's in the HBPA proposal is consistent with our proposal."

"The THA advocates a strict, but fair, medication program for racing that balances the integrity of the sport, the need for public confidence in the fairness of our sport, a level playing field for the participants, the welfare of the animal, and the realities of training and racing horses in the current environment," the THA said in a statement that accompanied its report.

Here are the recommendations included in the report:

- Urine and blood samples must be collected and tested from every horse selected for testing. Increasing emphasis must be given to blood plasma testing.

- Testing laboratories must be required to meet minimum standards for screening and confirming samples for prohibited substances. The industry needs to transition to LC/MS/MS confirmation testing.

- No sample should be reported as a positive test unless it has been screened as positive and confirmed as positive. The report of a positive test and the identities of the owner and trainer must remain confidential until an investigation is completed and a hearing conducted

- Every racing jurisdiction should permit the independent analysis of a positive urine and/or blood sample. All independent testing should be conducted by a new drug-testing and research consortium that would designate a laboratory to conduct such testing at the expense of the consortium.

- The current schedule of RCI drug classifications should be revised from five categories to three:

Class 1 -- non-therapeutic drugs with no medical use in the racing horse and whose potential to affect performance is very high. They would deemed as "zero tolerance."

Class 2 -- therapeutic drugs with a generally accepted medical use in the racehorse but whose potential to affect performance remains high.

Class 3 -- drugs routinely used in the racehorse for therapeutic purposes whose potential for affecting performance is minimal but whose ability to interfere with forensic testing is high.

- The consortium must appoint a scientific advisory panel to adjust the current drug classifications and classify newly discovered drugs or drugs entering the marketplace.

- The industry must recognize that certain drugs with the potential to affect performance may be present as the result of environmental contamination. (Examples are strychnine, atropine, scopolamine, caffeine, theophylline, and theobromine.) Other drugs that may be present as the result of contamination from other sources include morphine and cocaine.

- The industry should adopt recommended withdrawal time guidelines for the new Class 2 and Class 3 drugs. The recommended withdrawal time guidelines for Class 2 is 96 hours, and the recommendation for Class 3 is 24 hours.

- A uniform system documenting the treatment of a horse with medication must be implemented.

- Post-race quantitative testing of Salix (formerly Lasix) must be done to eliminate the problem of diluted samples. The establishment and acceptance of decision levels for certain drugs cannot be accomplished without blood plasma testing and the elimination of dilute samples. The use of certain approved adjunct bleeder and other adjunct medications in conjunction with Salix should be permitted, but their use must be disclosed to the betting public.

- With the exception and Salix and the permitted adjunct medications, no drug should be permitted to be administered to a horse with 24 hours of the post time.

- The racing industry should permit the controlled use of any one of the five FDA-approved non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. An industry threshold level for the other four FDA approved nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs should be adopted. The industry should also permit the presence of one corticosteroid in conjunction with a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug. The industry should move to curb the excessive use of such drugs for the welfare of the horse.

- The practice of "milkshaking" a horse must be eliminated. The proposed industry drug testing and research consortium should establish a concentration level for substances considered necessary for the detection of bicarbonate loading.

- The racing industry must implement new penalty guidelines, consistent with the new drug classifications, which differentiate between legitimate therapeutic treatment and non-therapeutic violations.

- The public must be educated about medication in racing and the manner in which it is regulated. The proposed consortium would draft an industry statement on medication that would be placed in every daily racing program and Daily Racing Form.

During the teleconference, Foreman touched on the need for post-race quantitation testing of Salix. He said there is "anecdotal evidence" of "topping off" -- administration of the medication after regulatory cut-off periods.

Foreman said members of the scientific community agree that use of Salix must be looked at carefully because the medication can dilute urine samples and skew testing results.

Full document, "Recommendations For A New Racing Industry Drug Testing, Medication And Research Program", PDF format

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