HBPA: Industry Moving Closer to Uniformity on Drug Rules

by | 04.11.2014 | 6:34pm

The National HBPA commends and applauds the Association of Racing Commissioners International's (ARCI) actions this week approving various changes to some of the Medication Model Rules. “The fact that the ARCI has been able to take a step back from where it was before, and making revisions based upon both scientific measures and veterinarian needs, represents a resurgence of reality-based rulemaking,” said Phil Hanrahan, CEO of the NHBPA. “For many industry observers, this isn't exactly man-biting-dog news, but the NHBPA thinks it's important for horsemen to recognize positive steps when they occur,” added Hanrahan, who noted that in the ARCI's approved medication related changes, in general, represented good news for the health management of our equine athletes and the safety of jockeys.

“The various changes to recently passed medication model rules recommended by the RMTC and adopted by the ARCI earlier this week, will move the industry closer to the uniformity that the National HBPA has always hoped would be realized,” said Dave Basler, the Chair of the NHBPA's Model Rules Committee, and Executive Director of the Ohio HBPA. Basler added, “The NHBPA is in complete agreement with Ed Martin, the President of the ARCI, that the industry needs to break free from what he referred to as a 'culture of negativity.' In that vein I very much respect Mr. Martin for his acknowledgement at Tuesday's ARCI Model Rules Committee meeting that the ARCI moved forward too quickly on certain model rules based upon various outside pressures.”

Robin Richards, Chair and President of the NHBPA added, “The NHBPA agrees with Mr. Martin that uniformity is a worthy goal, but we as an industry have to get it right.” Richards further stated, “The NHBPA believes that action taken at the ARCI's meeting is a positive step to get it right and that, in fact, the Schedule of Controlled Therapeutic Medications is a 'living document' that will be periodically amended based on scientific research.”

The actions by the ARCI are consistent with the NHBPA's position regarding the regulation of racing medication:

• The National HBPA's focus has always been, and remains, the health and safety of the horse, the safety of the jockey, and the safety of all individuals coming into contact with the horse including grooms, hot walkers, trainers, and veterinarians.
• The National HBPA believes a truly independent and transparent Racing Medication and Testing Consortium (“RMTC”) composed of industry stakeholders (including the NHBPA, Jockey Club and TOBA, among others) not dominated by an individual organization, with input from appropriate medical and veterinary professional bodies such as the American Association of Equine Practitioners, must be the final evaluator of medical and veterinary science.
• The National HBPA believes that RMTC approved medication rules should be reviewed by the Association of Racing Commissioners International on behalf of state racing commissions, and following an evaluation based on science and medical research with all industry stakeholders being heard, the rules should be adopted or rejected by a majority vote.
• The National HBPA contends that uniform medication rules must be based solely on published scientifically determined regulatory thresholds, with published scientifically determined withdrawal time guidelines, all based on and supported by data published in the scientific literature.
• The National HBPA believes that RMTC and ISO-17025 accredited laboratories should perform all medication testing.
• The National HBPA does not tolerate cheating in this sport. The NHBPA supports rules wherein repeat offenders of medication rules, after due process, should be severely penalized, including permanent expulsion from the industry.

Phil Combest, the President of the Florida HBPA stated, “The Florida Horsemen are gratified to hear that the ARCI has displayed a willingness to step back and revise and update some of the important aspects of the Medication Model Rules. There is no question that uniform medication rules are one, if not the, most critical challenges to racing universally. That's why we have to get it right and that's simply not an easy process.” Kent Stirling, the Executive Director of the Florida HBPA and the Chair of the NHBPA's Medication Committee, added, “Horsemen across the country want just one thing, a level playing field, and that's what Uniform Medication is all about. Florida is 100% on board with that goal and we'll continue with an open and frank dialogue with the ARCI, the Jockey Club and the RMTC as we move forward united toward that common end.”

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