California Assembly Passes Drug Testing Bill

(from California Horse Racing Board release)
The state Assembly approved legislation Thursday to allow the California Horse Racing Board to conduct milkshake testing and allow use of the University of California at Davis as the primary laboratory for all drug analysis for horse racing in the
Golden State.

The Assembly approved the measure, AB 52, by a vote of 73 to 2. The Senate Governmental Organization Committee will consider the bill next. If approved by the GO Committee, the Senate Appropriations Committee, and then by the full Senate, the bill would then go to Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger for his signature.

The bill deals with two separate issues pertaining to equine drug testing. The first involves testing for alkalizing agents that could affect the outcome of a race, a practice known as "milkshaking."

All California racetracks currently are voluntarily administering total carbon dioxide (TCO2) testing programs with the cooperation of horsemen's organizations. The CHRB adopted a rule in January for TCO2 testing but a modification of state law on split-sample testing was required before the board could assume responsibility for milkshake testing. Assemblyman Jerome E. Horton (D-Inglewood) introduced AB 52 to change the split-sample requirement only as it pertains to TCO2 testing.

If AB 52 ultimately becomes law, the rule adopted by the CHRB will be sent to other government agencies for review and final approval. The rule sets a maximum level of TCO2 at 37.0 millimoles per liter of blood serum or plasma. An excessive level of TCO2 will be treated as a Class 3 violation in the CHRB classification system requiring a disqualification with forfeiture of any purse monies. Additional penalties could include fines and suspensions. The revised rule includes a provision allowing horse owners to request the pre-race collection of split samples and testing at their own expense.

On behalf of the CHRB, Horton amended AB 52 to include a provision making Kenneth L. Maddy Equine Analytical Laboratory at UC Davis the primary testing clinic for all California racing. The CHRB in March approved the Maddy Lab and AB 52 reinforces the board action by requiring it to contract with the UC regents "to be the primary drug testing laboratory for any required equine drug testing." The Maddy Laboratory currently handles only a third of the equine samples in California.

The laboratory's standard protocol meets the "super test" recommendations of the Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders' Association.

"(AB 52) will not only ensure a level playing field for the owners and trainers of racehorses, but will protect the integrity of this great sport and the fans that support it," Horton said Thursday after the bill cleared the Assembly. "Now more than ever, it is imperative that the California horseracing industry continues to remain at the forefront of drug testing of racehorses."