RMTC Identified Substances in Roberson Case

Organization's tactical research program helped to prosecute trainer in Delaware.

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 by working with the HFL Sport Science's Lexington laboratory to identify dichloracetic acid and tadalafil, which is marketed in the United States under the trade name Cialis.

Roberson received a two-year suspension and $2,500 fine, the maximum penalty the stewards could impose. The DTRC upheld the stewards ruling Oct. 16.

The substances were found during a July 13 search of Roberson's barn by the DTRC that uncovered pre-loaded syringes with hypodermic needles attached and a large quantity of injectable substances. The injectable substances were compounded products labeled as GTO Accelerator and SK360. Samples of these two compounded substances were sent to the HFL Sport Science Lexington laboratory as part of the RMTC's Tactical Research Program.

"The information obtained from RMTC and HFL Sport Science Lexington assisted the Delaware Thoroughbred Racing Commission in prosecuting this case," stated DTRC executive director John Wayne in a release. "Access to this type of resource is a valuable tool for racing commissions in identifying unknown substances."

HFL Sport Science performed analysis of the contents and was able to identify substances in both samples. The sample containing the product labeled GTO Accelerator was identified as dichloracetic acid.

"Dichloroacetic acid inhibits the biosynthesis of lactic acid from pyruvate," said RMTC executive director Dr. Dionne Benson in a statement. "As such, it would act similarly to bicarbonate treatment but would not be detectable using a test for TCO2 or bicarbonate. It would likely be used on race day to increase stamina and speed in the horse." 

The other sample, obtained from the product labeled as SK360, was identified as containing tadalafil. Tadalafil is a phosphodiesterase 5 (PDE-5) type inhibitor marketed in the U.S. under the trade name Cialis.

"Some PDE-5 type inhibitors have been researched for their potential to decrease lung capillary pressure in horses, and thereby possibly decrease the likelihood of bleeding into the lungs from EIPH," said Benson in reference to exercise induced pulmonary hemorrhage. "These substances are sometimes administered on race day as adjunct bleeder medications. The research has shown, however, that the dose required to produce an effect cannot be maintained."

The RTMC Tactical Research Program, which was funded by a $100,000 grant from The Jockey Club, is an effort to identify threats to the integrity of racing. One of the ways this goal is achieved is through the testing of unknown substances. RMTC Accredited Laboratories, such as HFL Sport Science Lexington, receive unknown samples for this purpose. Upon testing the samples, the laboratories provide RMTC and the commission information on any substances identified. The RMTC absorbs the cost of this testing for the commissions. 

"This is yet another example of the benefits to the entire industry of the RMTC's Tactical Research Program," said Alex Waldrop, RMTC chairman and president of the National Thoroughbred Racing Association. "By collaborating with RMTC Accredited Laboratories and commissions like the Delaware Thoroughbred Racing Commission, we can aggressively police the use of nefarious substances in racing. This allows the commission to prosecute the responsible party, which will deter others from similar behavior."