Drug Task Force to Discuss 'Super Testing' Results

More than 700 samples have been reviewed through the National Thoroughbred Racing Association's "super testing" program, with another 1,100 on the way before an Aug. 1 deadline. But in the absence of national equine medication rules, the "calling of positives" will depend upon the jurisdiction.

The NTRA Task Force on Drug Testing and Racing Integrity planned to meet April 18 in Lexington for a status report. The "super testing" program was first announced in 1999, when the task force named Jim Gallagher as executive director.

Information from various racing commissions in the United States will be used to prepare the status report. Gallagher said the meeting will focus on strategy and research. When asked when and if the "super testing" results will be released to the public, Gallagher said: "That's still up in the air, and subject to discussions with members of the task force."

Testing must be completed by July and August, when contracts with laboratories at Cornell University and the University of California-Davis expire. Blind samples are used, which means individual horses and trainers cannot be identified. Racetracks and racing commissions in various states voluntarily submitted the samples for testing.

Gallagher wouldn't comment on specific drugs that have been detected. Whether a test produces a positive, he said, depends on a state's medication rules on illegal drugs and thresholds for legal, therapeutic substances.

"I can say we are looking for certain Class 4 drugs that we're seeing with regularity (in the tests)," Gallagher said.

According to the Association of Racing Commissioners International, Class 4 substances are therapeutic drugs that could influence performance, but with a limited ability to do so. Among the groups of drugs in the category are non-opiate drugs with a mild analgesic effect, antihistamines, muscle relaxants, anti-inflammatory drugs, anabolic steroids, less-potent diuretics, and topical anesthetics.

There are five RCI classifications for drugs, with Class 1 the most severe.