RMTC Position Papers Uphold Thresholds

Papers uphold regulatory thresholds for clenbuterol, corticosteroids in racing breeds

A pair of position papers released by the Racing Medication and Testing Consortium find no physiologic difference in the various racing breeds to justify changes to its established regulatory thresholds for use of clenbuterol and corticosteroids.

The papers are the conclusions of a panel formed at the request of the United States Trotting Association which at the September RMTC meeting called for more liberal thresholds for the use of intra-articular corticosteroids and clenbuterol in Standardbreds. Following that meeting, the USTA ended its RMTC membership, citing difference in breeds.

The RMTC said the recommendations in the two position papers were made by a panel of recognized laboratory directors, veterinary pharmacologists, practicing veterinarians, regulatory veterinarians, and veterinary surgeons with extensive experience in Thoroughbred, Standardbred, Quarter Horse, and Arabian racing.  

The corticosteroid position paper outlines the concerns regarding both short-term pain masking effects of corticosteroids as well as long-term damage caused by injudicious use of these medications. The panel affirmed the thresholds originally proposed by the RMTC.

"The benefit of the intra-articular corticosteroid thresholds as enacted by RMTC is to allow sufficient time between treatment and racing to allow the veterinarian to evaluate the effects of such treatment," said panel member Dr. Wayne McIlwraith, professor of surgery and director of the Gail Holmes Equine Orthopaedic Research Center at Colorado State University in a release. "Moreover, by providing a significant separation between intra-articular corticosteroid treatments and race-day, we minimize the potential for those treatments obscuring a more serious injury and compromising pre-race examinations." 

The clenbuterol position paper provides a review of both the legitimate beneficial effects and potential integrity issues associated with clenbuterol use. Ultimately, the panel determined that the original threshold recommended by RMTC should be upheld.

"We believe that protecting the integrity of horse racing is paramount and, therefore, there should be a sufficient separation between the administration of clenbuterol and race day for all horses which is supported by the existing threshold," stated RMTC board member and panel member Dr. Bobby Lewis in a release. "We do, however, acknowledge the need to provide options to veterinarians that allow them to appropriately treat horses which is why we recommended researching albuterol and guaifenasin as alternative treatments to clenbuterol."   

To read the clenbuterol paper, click here.

For the corticosteroid paper, click here.