While the focus of the expanded LGC Science facility in Lexington will be on testing human-use supplements, as opposed to the lab's equine drug testing, the additional expertise on such supplements could provide crossover benefit.
Lexington political and business leaders attended a ribbon-cutting Nov. 30 to celebrate the expanded LGC facility. LGC is a Racing Medication and Testing Consortium-accredited lab that handles drug testing for the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission.
The focus of the expansion is another endeavor of LGC: testing products sold as supplements for human use at stores like GNC. LGC tests these products to ensure that they do not contain any prohibited substances that would trigger a positive drug test under the standards of groups like the World Anti-Doping Association, along with professional and amateur sports leagues.
Paul Klinger, business development manager for LGC's supplements assurance program, said the lab tests 170 brands for 400 customers in 25 countries. Companies send supplements to the lab to be tested and LGC requires that multiple batches be tested to ensure consistency. Klinger said the lab also will buy the product off the shelf to make sure that the supplements turned in to LGC match the final product. LGC also continues to test the product after initial approval.
Should a substance pass these tests, it is awarded an industry logo that tells customers it will not trigger a positive drug test. The process is self-reguated by the industry.
LGC Lexington laboratory director Rick Sams said the added in-house expertise on supplements could prove useful, as racing regulators have raised concerns about supplemental products, especially products that market themselves as performance-enhancing in one way or another.
"We may get leads from things they find in supplements," Sams said. "If they're appearing in human athletes, they're almost certainly going to appear in equine athletes sooner or later."
Sams said in adding the supplment testing operation, it was important to expand the facility, because it allows the company to keep post-race equine testing completely separate from the supplemental testing.
"It allows us to totally separate the two activities, so that there is no possibility of commingling," Sams said.
During the ribbon-cutting ceremony, Sams thanked former KHRC executive director Lisa Underwood.
"Lisa recognized that racing in Kentucky needed to have its own testing lab," Sams said.
The laboratory, initially called HFL Sport Science, opened in December of 2010 and began testing collected equine samples in February of 2011. At about the same time period, LGC acquired HFL Sport Science and the name was eventually changed, although key staff members like Sams and current laboratory manager Lorie Bishop stayed in place.