Horsemen on Drug Rules: If It Ain't Broke, Don't Fix It

The National Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association has adopted a position paper on medication and drug-testing that says any changes in policies in each jurisdiction should be enacted only after there is scientific evidence specific therapeutic drugs shouldn't be used in racehorses.

The position paper fully supports efforts by the national Racing Medication and Testing Consortium to create a uniform policy for the country. However, the consortium has taken a somewhat different position in that it believes the industry must first scientifically prove drugs should be used in horses before their use is permitted.

In effect, the National HBPA has taken a stand that therapeutic medication policies should be left alone until there is proof specific therapeutic drugs threaten the health and welfare of racehorses.

The consortium continues to work on the national policy. Thus far, only Salix, the bleeder medication formerly known as Lasix, has been approved for use on race day. The adjunct bleeder medications currently used in Maryland and other Mid-Atlantic states will be looked at, as will non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs used on race day in Kentucky.

The National HBPA and its more than 30 affiliates approved the position paper during a Feb. 4 board of directors meeting in New Orleans after a brief presentation by Florida HBPA executive director Kent Stirling, who chairs the National HBPA Medication Committee. The organizations have agreed to support "all industry-wide efforts aimed at creating medication and testing policies for the horse racing industry that are uniform and scientifically based."

The paper also says penalties for violations for testing policies should be uniform -- absent mitigating circumstances -- and that all testing laboratories should be accredited and employ the most modern testing techniques available.

As for proposed changes in therapeutic medication statutes, the position paper says any changes for any jurisdiction "must be supported by a preponderance of peer-reviewed published scientific research demonstrating that the policy is not in the best interests of the health and well-being of the equine athlete." It also states that when a scientifically based change in a medication policy is required, "such a change will be based on published peer-reviewed scientific research and will be appropriate to the specific area of concern."

The National HBPA and its affiliates have agreed to provide assistance in funding for scientific research related to medication and testing matters, and they also believe that, where required, regulatory testing policies for therapeutic medication be based on blood threshold levels linked to scientific evidence.