Some of North America's top trainers are backing a plan to eliminate the use of race-day medication in the U.S. beginning next season with 2-year-olds, and expanding to all horses in 2016.
Churchill Downs Inc. on July 31 became the 24th racetrack entity in the United States to commit to making a contribution to the Racing Medication and Testing Consortium.
Multiple racing jurisdictions have adopted all or parts of the National Uniform Medication Program, with others expected to be on board by the end of this year.
Kentucky Thoroughbred Association/Kentucky Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders executive director David Switzer announced June 10 that he will retire from the organization Aug. 1 after 21 years at the helm.
Saying the current withdrawal time on the books for flunixin (Banamine) could leave New York horsemen and veterinarians vulnerable to positive tests, the NYTHA is recommending extending the time by an additional eight hours.
The National HBPA said April 11 it supports changes made by the Association of Racing Commissioners International in regard to uniform medication regulations.
Racing jurisdictions have made progress on equine medication reform but states and their regulatory agencies must commit to move quickly and in unison, said Alex Waldrop, president of the NTRA and chairman of the RMTC.
Racing industry organizations have greatly stepped up their call for swift adoption of national model rules on medication and drug testing in the wake of probes into allegations of mistreatment and over-medication of horses.
The Racing Medication and Testing Consortium board of directors took several actions March 17 intended to further the process toward the nationwide adoption of uniform medication rules, penalties, and testing.
Kentucky horsemen March 14 were given an overview of impending equine medication changes and also provided with a few tips to avoid headaches when the new regulations take effect later in the spring.
New York racing regulators raised the prospects of imposing new transparency standards on stewards, including possibly publicly releasing videos that are used by officials in decisions affecting the outcome of a race.
When is a scientific study not a scientific study? That was a question posed by several panelists during a two-hour session on medication Jan. 25 during the National HBPA winter convention.
A booklet put together by several individuals at the forefront of equine medication reform has been prepared for Maryland, which will enact the Mid-Atlantic Uniform Medication and Drug-Testing Program Jan. 1, 2014.
The Kentucky Horse Racing Commission on Dec. 11 approved changes to its withdrawal time guidelines for all racing breeds in line with the national uniform medication rules.
Amid another call for separate medication rules for Thoroughbreds and Standardbreds, the Ohio State Racing Commission has indicated it's not prepared to adopt a uniform national drug policy.
A pair of position papers released by the Racing Medication and Testing Consortium find no physiologic difference in various racing breeds to justify changes to its regulatory thresholds for clenbuterol and corticosteroids.
California has become the latest state to enact medication reforms developed by the Racing Medication and Testing Consortium and adopted as model rules by the Association of Racing Commissioners International.
The NTRA is submitting a letter to the Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing, and Trade outlining progress in the national reform effort to enhance the safety and integrity of racing.
- By Frank Angst
- Thoroughbred Racing, Northeast Region, Midwest Region, Southeast Region, Southwest Region, West Region, Kentucky
Regulators and racing leaders are taking a close look at facilities such as the Weatherford Compounding Pharmacy in Texas, which offers products with names such as Equine Growth Hormone, Game Changer, and Tourniquet.
If Kentucky is going to join the Mid-Atlantic Uniform Medication Reform's efforts to put uniform medication rules in place in each racing state, it's going to take some work and time.
The National Thoroughbred Racing Association has reported that the effort to adopt uniform national reforms addressing changes to medication regulation, enforcement, and laboratory testing continues to gain support.
The United States Trotting Association, which in late September dropped out of the Racing Medication and Testing Consortium and rejected model medication rules approved by RCI, has created its own drug advisory committee.
The Racing Medication and Testing Consortium's Tactical Research Program was instrumental in the Delaware Thoroughbred Racing Commission's recent prosecution of trainer Donald Roberson.
A major proponent for national uniform medication rules said Sept. 26 the move by the United States Trotting Association to drop out of the Racing Medication and Testing Consortium won't derail the effort.
The United States Trotting Association, citing differences in breeds, said Sept. 26 it has ended its membership in the Racing Medication and Testing Consortium and has rejected the proposed national model drug rules.
The RMTC will recommend the anabolic steroid stanozolol, currently permitted for therapeutic use up to 30 days prior to racing, be eliminated from the list of substances with a recommended threshold level.
- By Tom LaMarra
An official with the RMTC said confidentiality agreements used when the organization considers research to set thresholds and withdrawal times for medications are necessary because of scientific factors.
The West Virginia Racing Commission July 23 unanimously approved revised Thoroughbred racing rules, including several amendments that deal with equine medication and drug testing.
- By Tom LaMarra
The Racing Medication and Testing Consortium said July 19 its board of directors has approved a model rule on multiple violation penalties and forwarded the suggested change to racing commissioners for consideration.
Scientific and regulatory advisers to the National Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association July 13 expressed concerns over the proposed withdrawal time and testing level for the bronchodilator clenbuterol.
The RMTC Tactical Research Committee has reviewed data from laboratory analysis of the two substances of concern in racing that have been marketed as powerfully effective drugs: "Purple Pain" and "TB-500."
The University of California-Davis Kenneth L. Maddy Laboratory and HFL Sport Science in Lexington became the first two fully accredited laboratories under the RMTC Laboratory Accreditation program June 11.
The Kentucky Equine Drug Research Council will recommend measures to allow the state to more quickly take action when regulators become aware of emerging illegal substances.
- By Tom LaMarra
Racing organizations are moving ahead with plans to implement a points-driven penalty system for equine medication violations.
The Racing Medication and Testing Consortium board of directors adopted recommendations for thresholds and withdrawal times for four therapeutic medications at its March 19 meeting in Baltimore.
Regulators from 24 North American racing jurisdictions met via conference call March 4 to discuss new model medication rules set to be adopted by Racing Commissioners International.
While a recent positive for Nikethamide is the first in more than a decade in U.S. racing, the dangerous nature of the Class I drug has the attention of regulators.
RMTC Executive Director Dr. Dionne Benson believes data clearly demonstrates the two microgram limit is a workable threshold for horsemen.
The $25,000 prize intended for three New York Times writers will instead benefit drug testing programs. The newspaper's editorial ethics policy prohibits the writers from accepting the award.
The Racing Medication and Testing Consortium board of directors has approved thresholds and withdrawal guidelines for six medications that have been identified as having therapeutic purposes.
Two more national organizations have called on Kentucky to move forward with medication reform regulations shot down by a legislative committee Aug. 27.
The Racing Medication and Testing Consortium has hired Dr. Dionne Benson as executive director and chief operating officer.
- By Tom LaMarra
The Thoroughbred Racing Associations has endorsed a policy for medication reform that has been supported by many industry stakeholders but so far acted upon piecemeal in various jurisdictions.
The California Horse Racing Board gave final approval April 26 to a rule change that eliminates "jail time" for most horses that are claimed.
At its April 23 meeting the Racing Medication and Testing Consortium board of directors approved an agreement with The Jockey Club to engage the full-time services of Jamie Haydon as RMTC interim executive director.
The Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association's American Graded Stakes Committee announced Feb. 24 it has postponed implementing a ban on race-day medication in graded stakes races for 2-year-olds in 2012.
- By Tom LaMarra
The American Graded Stakes Committee said Aug. 10 it will employ a pilot program that will ban race-day medications -- primarily the anti-bleeding drug Salix -- in graded 2-year-old stakes in 2012.
An industry consortium supports administration of Salix by regulatory veterinarians only and a ban on adjunct bleeder drugs, but will continue to study a pilot program proposal to ban the use of race-day Salix in 2-year-olds.
Industry organizations that have weighed in so far are for the most part supportive of the plan by Breeders' Cup to phase out race-day medication use in the World Championships beginning in 2012.
- By Tom LaMarra
The Racing Medication and Testing Consortium will, among other things, discuss proposals to phase out race-day medication use during its next meeting Aug. 4.
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