Medication Consortium to Meet, Name Officers

The Racing Medication and Testing Consortium is scheduled to meet Feb. 4 in Atlanta, Ga., to hammer out details of its structure and further develop its policy statement.

Representatives of 26 industry stakeholder groups are expected to be among those in attendance. In 2002, the consortium incorporated as a charitable organization.

Dr. Scot Waterman executive director of the National Thoroughbred Racing Association Integrity and Drug Testing Task Force, said the selection of officers and an executive director are among the agenda items.

"Scot is going to be the executive director," said Alan Foreman, chief executive officer of the Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association and a member of the consortium. "They need a chairman of the board to run the meetings. I don't see that being of too terrible importance."

A policy statement remains in the works, with no firm timeline for completion. Waterman said the consortium is taking a "section by section" approach.

"I don't know how long it's going to take us to do the whole document," Waterman said. "We're close in some areas, but we have a long way to go in other areas."

The consortium's mission is to "develop, promote, and coordinate, at the national level, policies, research, and educational programs which seek to ensure the fairness and integrity of racing, the health and welfare of racehorses and participants, and protect the interests of the betting public."

The various stakeholders on the consortium have sometimes clashed over medication issues. The THA and National Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association have each floated their own proposals for uniform national medication and drug testing.

Foreman said much of what gets decided in the area of therapeutic medication, threshold levels, and withdrawal times hinges on scientific evidence. He said relying on one individual's recommendations is out of the question.

"If the scientists agree, we should recommend adoption (of policy)," Foreman said. "If not, we should not adopt it."

Kent Stirling, chairman of the National Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association's Medication Committee, will represent the horsemen's group at the Feb. 4 meeting. Stirling indicated there has been some progress.

"I do the best I can (to represent) what we believe in, but this will be an act of negotiation," Stirling said in regard to each group having its opinions heard. "I think we're learning to work together."

The National HBPA board of directors, at its Jan. 29 board of directors meeting, approved a motion to encourage all of its more than 30 affiliates to "investigate a voluntary bridge funding mechanism" for the consortium and report back to Stirling. The Florida HBPA and Gulfstream contribute a fee for each horse that finishes first through fourth during the current meet.

As of late last year, the consortium had about $800,000 in contributions, and it plans to fund about 10 to 15 research projects this year.