Sale Company Officials Complain About Handling of Medication Guidelines' Development

Several sale company officials have written a letter to Dr. Larry Bramlage complaining about how an American Association of Equine Practitioners task force handled the development and release to the public of its guidelines for medications in sale horses. Chaired by Bramlage, a prominent equine surgeon, AEEP Task Force on Medication Issues at Public Auction issued its recommendations last December. The recommendations included a ban on anabolic steroids while horses are on a sale company's grounds.

The letter, dated Feb. 10, is typed on Society of International Thoroughbred Auctioneers (SITA) stationery and is signed by Nick Nicholson, the president and chief executive officer of Keeneland; Walt Robertson, the president of the Fasig-Tipton Co.; and Tom Chiota, the president of the Ocala Breeders' Sales Co.

The letter's writers noted that SITA and the AAEP had worked together in the past on various veterinary issues and reached a consensus – something the sale company officials said did not happen with the medication guidelines.

According to the letter, "during discussion at Sales Integrity Task Force meetings, the AAEP was asked for its input and analysis on medication and other veterinary issues. Therefore, consultation would have been entirely appropriate for any recommendations germane to auction sales as it has been on other important issues.
"It is one thing to have made a public recommendation from your task force of what would be desirable," the letter's writers continued. "However, it is entirely unacceptable that sales companies were publicly charged by this same task force as being the 'principal enforcers' of a vague and as yet undefined policy."

However, while expressing their dissatisfaction, the sale company officials also pledged that that SITA members would "not drag their heels on this matter," and would be "willingly involved" in the implementation of a medication policy provided that it is "practical and acceptable to parties involved in the sale and purchase of Thoroughbreds at public auction."

Bramlage declined to comment when asked about the letter.

Following the medication guidelines' release last December, two sale company officials, Geoffrey Russell of Keeneland and Boyd Browning of Fasig-Tipton, complained to The Blood-Horse that auction firms had not been consulted during the development of the guidelines.