National HBPA Takes Further Action on Medication

The board of the National Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association, during its winter convention in Las Vegas, Nev., Jan. 22-24, passed two motions tied to medication issues: One calls for more representation in follow-up meetings to the Racehorse Medication Summit, while the other seeks official positions from affiliates on use of race-day therapeutic medication.

Kent Stirling, who chairs the National HBPA's medication committee, said the organization supports future endeavors under a "building blocks" proposal circulated by Jim Gallagher, executive director of the NTRA Racing Integrity and Drug Testing Task Force, and Dr. Scot Waterman, director of methods and procedures for the task force. Those two men have taken the lead in following up on a December medication summit organization by the American Association of Equine Practitioners.

Participants in the summit are scheduled to meet Jan. 28 for a teleconference.

"Gallagher and Waterman did an excellent job," Stirling said. "They picked from the summit the least contentious things and are going forward. We hope the NTRA keeps a lead in this (effort to uniformity in medication and drug testing)."

Stirling said the National HBPA, which last October issued its own proposal for race-day medication use and drug testing, has recommended that its adviser, Dr. Thomas Tobin of the University of Kentucky, be a member of a proposed chemist advisory committee that could include Dr. George Maylin of Cornell University and Dr. Richard Sams of Ohio State University. Maylin was instrumental in developing a medication and testing proposal released by the Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association in early December.

As for HBPA affiliates, Stirling said the national board wants to know where they stand on Class 4 and Class 5 therapeutic medications and their use on race day. "We want to find out their positions," said Stirling, who noted the motion didn't pass unanimously.

The Kentucky HBPA has been vocal in maintaining the state's medication policies, which permit use of multiple therapeutics on race day. Some Kentucky horsemen and veterinarians complained their position wasn't adequately represented during the medication summit in Tucson, Ariz.

Gallagher mentioned Maylin and Sams in his memo to summit participants, but on Jan. 24 said nothing is written in stone. In fact, any movement forward must be agreed upon by the summit participants who will meet again by phone Jan. 28, he said.

In the memo, Gallagher said: "Since no individual industry stakeholder has the time or the manpower to shepherd the group and channel the process, the NTRA Racing Integrity and Drug Testing Task Force is willing to provide its resources to the group. We have developed a significant archive of information that may be helpful to the group moving forward and have the time to aid in logistical matters. Any decisions on policy, however, will continue to need the entire group's input before implementation."

The following issues will be addressed: development of scientifically-based withdrawal time guidelines/decision levels for certain therapeutic medications; a review of the medication classification system set forth by the Association of Racing Commissioners International; and communication of identified drugs and withdrawal times to the pari-mutuel industry.

In addition, the memo says contaminant issues must be addressed. The concentration of a drug in a test sample is "one important fact to be considered in the enforcement/adjudication process," the memo says.

The memo also recommends formation of a national advisory body and a steering committee, both of which were addressed during the medication summit.

In other business, at the horsemen's convention, Bill Walmsley, president of the Arkansas HBPA, announced he would no longer represent the National HBPA on the NTRA board of directors. Walmsley, on the board since it was formed in the late 1990s, will be replaced by National HBPA president John Roark of Texas.

In addition, Walmsley no longer will serve as National HBPA spokesman. Remi Bellocq, hired as executive director last year, will take over those duties.

"Bill has put a lot of his time into the NTRA," NTRA commissioner Tim Smith said.

In an earlier interview, Walmsley, an Arkansas lawyer, indicated he was ready to move on and do some other things, but withheld comment pending official action at the Las Vegas convention.

Officials with the NTRA were on a goodwill mission in an effort to convince horsemen membership in the NTRA is worthwhile. They traveled to the National HBPA convention to drum up support.

"We had a lot of good discussions, but nothing was finalized," Smith said. "A bunch of them have ideas. They said, 'You do cooperative programs with racetracks, so how about doing them with us?' They also mentioned group purchasing."

There has been talk the Arkansas HBPA wouldn't renew its NTRA membership because Oaklawn Park, the only Thoroughbred track in state, isn't a member. The status of Arkansas' membership couldn't be determined.

"It may be we'll lose one or two (horsemen's groups), but we could gain as many or more," Smith said.