The Racing Medication and Testing Consortium board of directors has approved new national laboratory standards for testing, the implementation of a laboratory accreditation program and a new independent Equine Quality Assurance Program.
In addition, at the June 18 meeting in Baltimore the board approved the three-year funding of a graduate/post-doctoral research fellowship and a frozen sample and retrospective testing program.
According to a release from RMTC, the new drug testing initiatives are part of sweeping reforms in drug testing recommended by Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association CEO and RMTC vice chairman Alan M. Foreman at The Jockey Club's 2008 Round Table Conference.
“The RMTC has adopted standards that all testing laboratories will have to meet to gain accreditation and we have begun the actual accreditation process,” said Foreman. “The new Equine Quality Assurance Program will provide an independent, third-party examination of equine drug testing laboratories, which is a totally new concept for the horse racing industry. This work is unprecedented and ultimately will change the face of drug testing in this country.”
The Drug Testing Initiative Task Force, which has provided and continues to provide support and advice to the RMTC on drug testing issues, consists of Drs. Richard Sams, Scott Stanley, George Maylin, Don Catlin, Rick Arthur, Larry Soma and Walter Hyde. The other members include Foreman, Duncan Patterson from the Association of Racing Commissioners International, Rogers Beasley from Keeneland, and Alan Marzelli from The Jockey Club. DTI Task Force members will be finalizing a budget and implementation strategy for the drug testing initiative in the weeks ahead.
The Jockey Club is funding the frozen sample and retrospective testing program and it is contributing $150,000 in funding for this and other drug testing purposes in 2009, according to the RMTC release.
The graduate/post-doctoral research fellowship program resulted from a commitment by RMTC board members of $75,000 per year for three years for a matching grant.
The board also asked the RMTC Scientific Advisory Committee to finalize recommendations for the RCI Model Rules Committee on plasma thresholds and the corresponding withdrawal times for anabolic steroids. In addition, an explanation for how withdrawal times for permitted therapeutic medications are calculated will be made available in the withdrawal times database on rmtcnet.com.
The Scientific Advisory Committee will also review existing research on non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and policies in place for those therapeutic medications. Currently, the use of the NSAID drugs phenylbutazone, flunixin and ketoprofen are allowed at 24 hours prior to racing. Regulatory veterinarians have expressed concern to the RMTC that current policies may compromise pre-race examinations.
RMTC Executive Director Dr. Scot Waterman also provided board members with an update on administration studies funded by the RMTC on a number of essential non-raceday therapeutic medications. The RMTC Scientific Advisory Committee will continue to review available data from these studies for withdrawal time recommendations.
“We are very close to completing the first phase of our withdrawal times recommendations, which we believe will reduce the number of violations for therapeutic medications across the country once adopted,” said Dr. Waterman. “This will benefit the entire industry.”
The RMTC consists of 25 racing industry stakeholders and organizations that represent Thoroughbred, Standardbred, American Quarter Horse and Arabian racing.