Drug Penalty System Next Up in West Virginia
Photo: Anne M. Eberhardt

The West Virginia Racing Commission will soon consider a penalty system for drug violations that dovetails with uniform model rules making their way through the state legislature.

The medication model rules offered by the Racing Medication and Testing Consortium and adopted by the Association of Racing Commissioners International were approved by the WVRC last year and are making their way through the state legislature in 2014. The penalty component was not part of the rules.

Deputy attorney general Kelli Talbott, who represents the WVRC, recommended Jan. 21 the penalty system–called MVP, or multiple violation penalties–be considered for the 2015 legislative session. In order for that to happen, the rules must be submitted by June 2014.

West Virginia has participated in medication meetings in the Mid-Atlantic region. Most states in the region have approved the medication rules and the penalty system.

WVRC executive director Jon Amores said the 2014 medication rules, which include threshold testing levels and withdrawal times for 24 therapeutic drugs, already have cleared the Senate Judiciary Committee and have been sent to the Senate floor for a vote. Officials decided to wait on the penalty system rather than derail movement in the legislature by submitting amendments.

When asked by racing commissioners about the penalty system in other states, Talbott said: "I'm unaware of controversies in other (Mid-Atlantic) states. Some are in stages of adopting the system, and others have adopted it."

WVRC chairman Jack Rossi, who was re-elected to that position for 2014, said it's possible a meeting of industry stakeholders could be held soon to hammer out a plan. West Virginia has a policy of involving all stakeholders–racetracks and horsemen's groups–in developing rules that are submitted to lawmakers.

"I think we should move forward in some manner," WVRC member Bill Phillips said.

Rossi said he expects an update could be provided at the commission's February meeting.

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