RMTC Refocusing on Drug Testing, Uniformity

After nearly five years in existence, the Racing Medication and Testing Consortium is refocusing on some of its core goals such as uniform rules, drug research, and standardizing drug-testing procedures in the United States.

After nearly five years in existence, the Racing Medication and Testing Consortium is refocusing on some of its core goals such as uniform rules, drug research, and standardizing drug-testing procedures in the United States.

Included as part of the RMTC board meeting in Lexington Oct.16-17 was a strategic planning session that focused “on adoption of uniform rules and penalty guidelines, best practices and accreditation for drug-testing laboratories, research on prohibited substances, composition and representation of the board of directors, staffing needs, committee structure, funding strategies, and communications and public relations,” according to an RMTC statement.

Tentative decisions were reached to:

--Form a grassroots initiative to secure passage of uniform, model medication rules and penalty guidelines in more states.

--Encourage state legislatures to provide more funding for drug testing and racing commission investigative staff.

--Establish minimum standards, best practices, and ISO accreditation requirements for drug-testing laboratories.

--Develop requests for proposal on drug testing for prohibited and illegal substances.

--Provide more effective and timely communications of RMTC programs, research, and initiatives to racing industry organizations, media, and racing fans.

--Develop funding strategies to broaden the support base and increase contributions.

“This gets more of a refocus back on drug testing, uniformity of rules, uniformity of testing procedures at the labs, and research,” said Dan Fick, executive director of The Jockey Club, of which the RMTC is affiliated.

RMTC executive director Scot Waterman was unavailable Oct. 23 to comment on the body’s actions because he is appearing before a legislative committee.

As part of its initiative, the board of directors has strengthened the ability of its executive committee to make decisions on a more frequent basis than the twice-yearly full board meetings.

“We still need the large board with representations from all aspects of the industry,” Fick said, “but to be able to react and be more effective we have strengthened the executive committee to able to meet more regularly and even make some decisions by telephone meetings.”

“This was an excellent and difficult meeting at the same time,” RMTC chairman Robert Lewis said in the release. “There was significant retrospection and introspection by the board and staff to formulate the most productive structure to rapidly and effectively implement our future objectives.”

The RMTC also formed four main committees -- scientific advisory, communications, funding strategies, and executive.

The scientific advisory committee will oversee all research and advisory subcommittees to ensure scientific accuracy of all RMTC recommendations. The communications committee will supervise public relations, publicity, and publications, hopefully with assistance from other racing industry marketing professionals.

The funding strategies committee will continue to seek contributions from racetracks and horsemen while seeking additional support from racing industry organizations, foundations, and individuals for support. The executive committee, which comprises the RMTC officers and committee chairs, will meet on a regular basis to provide leadership and direction between the twice yearly board of directors’ meetings.
Also, the RMTC staff is being expanded to include a director of research and a communications coordinator, and the number of racing chemist advisers will be increased. In addition, RMTC officials said “more participation from breeders and owners of all racing breeds will be sought.”

The board also agreed the organization will no longer be involved with funding the “Big Event Team,” which is administered by the Thoroughbred Racing and Protective Bureau. Over the last three years, the RMTC said it has dispatched teams to 42 events at 17 venues in North America as part of an effort to provide racetracks with “an enhanced security and investigative capability, as well as providing training and best practices.”

According to the RMTC, it has achieved its goals with regard to the Big Event Team, which will continue to be administered by TRPB but with the funding coming from the racetracks.

Also during the Lexington meeting, which was attended by 27 RMTC board members and two members of the RMTC Chemist Advisory Committee, the research agenda included:

--Updates from three committees on the regulation of anabolic steroids, track security, and TCO2 ("milkshake") testing protocols.

--Reports on “determination of ethanol in the breath and blood in horses following low doses” and “analysis of erythropoietin and darbapoietin” in out-of-competition testing.

--Update on research into withdrawal times for butorphanol, methocarbamol, and pyrilamine.

--Proposals for research into withdrawal times for lidocaine, mepivacaine, glycopyrrolate, acepromazine, detomidine, stanozolol, aqueous testosterone, and boldenone.

--Update on the enhancement of drug-testing capabilities at Dr. Don Catlin’s Equine Drug Research Institute.

--Approval of an agenda and presenters for the RMTC-sponsored Regulatory Veterinarians’ Workshop at the American Association of Equine Practitioners convention in Orlando Nov. 30.

The next meeting of the RMTC board of directors was tentatively set for the Association of Racing Commissioners International annual convention in Austin, Texas, March 24, 2008.