Representation Issue Lingers After Drug Meeting

In the wake of a Jan. 28 teleconference to discuss plans for a national medication policy, organizers and the National Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association continue to negotiate on a representation issue.

Before and after the Dec. 4 Racehorse Medication Summit in Tucson, Ariz., Kentucky HBPA officials expressed displeasure with the fact Dr. Thomas Tobin of the University of Kentucky wasn't invited to participate in the meeting attended by more than 30 industry officials. Tobin serves as an advisor to the Kentucky and National HBPAs.

Horsemen's representatives had requested Tobin replace National HBPA executive director Remi Bellocq at the meeting. Officials from the HBPA and the American Association of Equine Practitioners, which facilitated the summit, offered conflicting reports as to whether the request was granted, and as to why Tobin didn't participate.

Bellocq and Florida HBPA executive director Kent Stirling, who chairs the National HBPA's medication committee, participated in the Tucson meeting and the Jan. 28 teleconference. The effort to get Tobin a spot on the primary committee continues, though an official said Jan. 30 he couldn't comment on the results of the teleconference because a gag order was in place similar to the one issued after the Dec. 4 meeting.

Jim Gallagher, executive director of the National Thoroughbred Racing Association Racing Integrity and Drug Testing Task Force and spokesman after the teleconference, said participants agreed to confidentialty for some material, but that a gag order wasn't issued. On Jan. 29, Gallagher said the group decided Tobin would be best utilized as a member of its veterinary advisory committee, which will identify medications used in racehorses and study their pharmacology.

The medication summit generated some friction, particularly in Kentucky, where the local HBPA, more than 6,000 members strong, has attempted to protect the state's current medication regulations. Kentucky HBPA representatives, as well as some racetrack veterinarians, believe their position isn't properly represented as the industry moves toward uniformity in medication and drug testing.