RMTC Addresses Withdrawal Guidelines

The Board of Directors of the Racing Medication and Testing Consortium (RMTC) commissioned Dr. Rick Sams of Ohio State to develop an action plan, timeline, and research priorities to establish guidelines for withdrawal times for therapeutic medications commonly used by racetrack veterinarians.

The RMTC Board meeting held Oct. 16-17 in Lexington also included an update on research projects, progress in adoption of model medication rules, review of security efforts at major racing events, and 2006 financial projections.

RMTC Executive Director Scot Waterman said, "With 28 pari-mutuel horse racing states having adopted, or in the process of adopting, the RMTC Model Medication Policy, the consortium is focused on the next step of developing guidelines for horsemen and veterinarians on withdrawal times for therapeutic medications. Some states already have recommended withdrawal times, but the problem is the recommended withdrawal times are not uniform from state-to-state and some jurisdictions issue no withdrawal guidelines at all. The consortium needs to take the same tact we took in developing the Model Medication Policy – recommendations from our Scientific Advisory Committee based on existing, peer-reviewed scientific research. If they can reach a consensus on a withdrawal guideline, then the RMTC can make a recommendation. If not, then additional scientific research will have to be funded."

Dr. Waterman also presented the Board with updates on current research projects, including identification of erythropoietin (EPO) in horses, reporting level for procaine based penicillin, poppy seed (morphine) contamination, and withdrawal times from Clenbuterol. All of these projects are moving toward peer-reviewed publication. New projects include detection of ethanol (alcohol) and ziconotide (cone snail venom) in horses, efficacy of adjunct bleeder medications and furosemide in treating EIPH, and a scientific workshop on protein-based drugs. The RMTC has invested nearly $700,000 in these studies over the past three years.

The Board reviewed the "after-action" reports from the Big Event Team (BET) at the Travers, Haskell, both grade I, as well as the Standardbred races, Hambletonian and Little Brown Jug. BET is a task force of experienced racing investigators from the Thoroughbred Racing and Protective Bureau (TRPB), Standardbred Investigative Services (SIS), state racing commissions and racetracks that have enhanced security measures during major races this year, including the Triple Crown. The largest contingent of the year will be at the Breeders' Cup, and plans are being developed, funds permitting, to expand the task force in 2006 to include more racing events beyond just graded stakes and also involving Quarter Horse racing.

"RMTC's presence at the racetracks on a routine basis protects the horsemen's and bettors' best interests by ensuring the integrity of the races," according to Chris Scherf, RMTC co-vice chairman, and executive vice president of the TRA, parent of TRPB.

Funding for the RMTC has been provided by member organizations through three-year commitments from 2003 to 2005 for nearly $2.5 million. Beginning in 2006, the funding for RMTC programs and research will need to come from contributions from horsemen's organizations and racetracks. The funding formula is based on $5 per start with matching contributions from racetracks based on the average purse per race.

The RMTC plan is to seek commitments for 25% of the funding formula in 2006, increasing in 25% increments to 100% in 2009. The funding increases will enable the RMTC to increase research and security efforts and to expand into testing laboratory best practices, quality assurance and accreditation with the possibility of starting an RMTC reference laboratory in the near future. The funding formula includes all breeds and has been kicked-off by a $250,000 commitment from the Thoroughbred Horsemen's Associations in Delaware, Illinois, Maryland, New Jersey and New York.

Alan Foreman, RMTC co-vice chairman, and chairman and CEO of THA said, "The progress of the Racing Medication and Testing Consortium has been nothing short of remarkable and its achievements unprecedented. The Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association, through our respective organizations, is once again taking a leadership role on medication by distributing to the consortium $250,000 in per-start fees to support the work of the consortium. We now challenge all of the other horsemen's organizations and the racetracks to match our enthusiasm for and commitment to the consortium's efforts."

The next meeting of the RMTC Board is scheduled for Jan. 23 in Los Angeles.

The Racing Medication and Testing Consortium, consisting of 25 racing industry stakeholders and organizations, was formed to develop, promote and coordinate, at the national level, policies, research and educational programs that seek to ensure the fairness and integrity of racing and the health and welfare of racehorses and participants, and to protect the interests of the betting public.