The Kentucky Equine Drug Research Council has adopted a statement supporting screening limits at drug-testing laboratories as a result of the proliferation of irrelevant substances that have shown up at low levels in equine drug tests.
Dr. Mary Scollay, the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission's equine medical director, explained that while various racing commissions and organizations have succeeded in adopting threshold levels for therapeutic substances, there are no thresholds for irrelevant substances that highly sophisticated testing equipment at labs is detecting.
"Laboratories are always trying to do better," Scollay said. "That's all well and good for stuff we absolutely do not want in a horse at any time, but there are risks in that other substances are being detected in concentrations that are, in effect, irrelevant.
"We've addressed a lot of therapeutics with thresholds. Now we're finding there is vulnerability for the substances for which there are no thresholds. You can have consistent regulatory language but very different enforcement because of the different laboratory's proficiencies. Sometimes they are reluctant to share that information so it can be a bit of a black box going from one jurisdiction to another."
While some EDRC members said that screening limits could protect horsemen when substances commonly used by humans show up in tests as a result of contamination, Scollay said the initial focus of screening limits would be substances commonly used in horses.
"The initial focus is going to be substances that have conventional use in treating a racehorse to maintain health but because of laboratory capabilities they can be detected at such low levels they are irrelevant," she said. "The first goal is to address that. The stuff that is most prevalent for which we need to provide that solid footing."
Also during its April 4 meeting at the KHRC offices at the Kentucky Horse Park, the EDRC gave final approval to its Uniform Drug, Medication, and Substance Classification Schedule and Withdrawal Guidelines and Thresholds. All of the actions by the EDRC will be sent to the KHRC for consideration.