Foreman: Pace of Drug Reform 'Unprecedented'

Foreman: Pace of Drug Reform 'Unprecedented'
Photo: Anne M. Eberhardt
Alan Foreman

The following is a statement from Alan Foreman, chairman and CEO of Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association and vice chairman of the Racing Medication & Testing Consortium (RMTC), responding to criticism from The Jockey Club chairman Ogden Mills Phipps that the pace of medication reform in the U.S. has been "painstakingly slow" due to bureaucracy or stalled by special interest groups.

We appreciate the comments of Dinny Phipps as they relate to the uniform medication and drug testing reforms that are currently circulating throughout the racing industry. We are proud that these reforms began through a collective commitment by the Mid-Atlantic racing states, in cooperation with the horsemen and racetrack entities, to develop and implement the program. The Jockey Club has not only supported the initiative but has also committed its time and resources to getting this done nationally.

The uniform program was first announced by the Mid-Atlantic states on April 1, 2013. Recognizing that implementation requires either state regulatory or, in some cases, legislative action, the Mid-Atlantic announced that it would implement the reforms on Jan. 1, 2014, or whenever a participating state's live racing commenced in 2014. Since then, the effort to get this program adopted and implemented nationally began in the summer of 2013.

When the industry determined that it would eliminate steroids from competition in 2008, the effort began with collective action by the Mid-Atlantic states and took approximately 18 months to be achieved nationally. At the time, the industry was hailed for its ability to move swiftly and collectively to significantly change policy. We are a year from when the Mid-Atlantic introduced the current reforms and nine months since the effort was embraced nationally. In his statement, Dinny referred to only four states that, according to the Jockey Club, have implemented the reforms while acknowledging that many others are in the process of doing so.

Some in the media today have questioned my recent public statements that all but four of the 38 racing states are in the process of adopting the program in light of Dinny's comments. I think everyone should know the status and progress of the reform program.

In the Mid-Atlantic, Maryland, Delaware, Virginia, West Virginia, Pennsylvania and New York have adopted and implemented the program. It is significant that West Virginia needed two legislative sessions to get the reforms implemented and the West Virginia legislature recently adopted the reforms that were not adopted in 2013. The only remaining reform to be implemented in Pennsylvania is the third-party administration of Lasix at Parx Racing and implementation there is imminent. While New York is in the process of formally adopting the medication thresholds, the reforms have been in place since Gov. (Andrew) Cuomo mandated their implementation following the Task Force Report in 2012. New Jersey already has many of the reforms in place, including third-party administration of Lasix, and is awaiting approval from the state's legal department on the rest.

The following states are in the final adoption stage or preparing to commence implementationKentucky, California, Massachusetts, New Mexico, Minnesota, and Arizona.

All but four of the remaining states are considering the reforms and it is anticipated that they will adopt the reforms sometime in 2014.

The four outlier racing states not currently considering the reforms are Florida, Louisiana, Oklahoma and Colorado. The failure of these states to move forward is an embarrassment to racing and unacceptable. This needs to be collectively addressed by everyone and every organization associated with our industry.

In regards to laboratory accreditation, progress has been remarkable. Just three years ago, only a few of our testing laboratories were accredited and the RMTC's tougher accreditation program was just getting started. The reforms require a laboratory to have both international and RMTC Code accreditation. Today, three laboratories conducting testing for 10 states have obtained both international and RMTC Code accreditation. Five more laboratories testing for an additional 17 other states have obtained international accreditation and are currently undergoing RMTC Code Accreditation and should be fully accredited in 2014. Five jurisdictions that previously were relying on testing by an unaccredited laboratory have moved their testing to laboratories that will have both international and RMTC Code accreditation in 2014.

Only five statesIowa, Louisiana, Michigan, South Dakota and Texas­ currently rely on testing performed by a laboratory that has no accreditation whatsoever. Again, this should not be tolerated by our industry and needs to be collectively addressed.

The industry is presently implementing a system to identify and root out multiple drug offenders. The required national database has been developed and implemented by ARCI [Association of Racing Commissioners International]. Starting Jan. 1, 2014, all medication violations carry points that will lead to the identification of multiple drug offenders and those who do not adhere to our new strict protocols.

In the span of less than one year, we have been in the process of implementing the most sweeping reform in medication regulation and testing in a generation. Given the regulatory and legislative environment under which racing is required to operate, the pace of this reform has been unprecedented and deserves to be recognized. The federal government would not move any faster.

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