Kentucky's New Testing Contract Progresses

The Kentucky Racing Commission opened the bidding for its new drug-testing contract Monday and also formed a committee to help facilitate recommendations contained in a comprehensive report issued by the National Thoroughbred Racing Association Racing Integrity and Drug Testing Task Force.

The commission hopes to bid the contract, which it claims is the best document of its kind in the country, by Oct. 1, and award it by Jan. 1, 2002. Among the facilities that already have expressed an interest in the contract are Truesdail Laboratory of California, PTRL East of Kentucky, University of California-Davis, Iowa State University, and Industrial Laboratories of Colorado.

Truesdail currently handles equine drug testing for Kentucky.
"In Kentucky, we'll have the best testing procedures in the nation," commission chairman Frank Shoop said.

Commissioners Alice Chandler, Frank Jones Jr., and Robert Stallings, as well as executive director Bernie Hettel, will serve on the drug-testing committee. Ned Bonnie, a member of the state's Equine Drug Council, will serve as a liaison to the NTRA's task force.

Shoop said he wants Kentucky to take the lead in making sure the report, released in August, doesn't collect dust.

"No one in my opinion isn't behind the report," Shoop said. "We want to provide national leadership to keep this thing alive."

The task force report zeroes in on drug-testing procedures, not state-by-state medication rules. When asked after the meeting about Kentucky's rules, which have been characterized by some in the industry as being permissive, Shoop said he had an "open mind."

"We want the committee to come back to us and say, 'This is what we need to do,' " Shoop said. "Personally, I think the medication rules right now in Kentucky are fair. Most people I've talked to are more concerned about enforcement."

To that end, the commission plans to issue another directive soon to reiterate the rule whereby no medication can be given to a horse within four hours of a race.