The Drug Testing Standards and Practices Committee (DTSP) of the Association of Racing Commissioners International (ARCI) has voted to call for public comment draft rule language that would create a new paradigm for drug prosecutions and impose a ten year exclusion for those guilty of the most egregious violations.
Under the draft rule commissions would question the trainer and veterinarian of a horse found to have been “excessively” administered any substance, as shown typically by the amount detected in the horses' system as a result of a biological sample test, regardless of whether it was in or out of competition.
The trainer or veterinarian would be required to prove, as a defense, that any particular administration of a substance in an “excessive” amount did not actually endanger the welfare of the horse or affect racing performance.
Levels indicating an administration of a medication far in excess of the recommended dosage consistent with generally accepted veterinary care could be considered “excessive” and an overdose. Extremely high levels of endogenous substances indicative of an independent administration beyond consumption of dietary supplements or vitamins consistent with recommended levels could also be questioned.
“Those who run afoul of generally accepted veterinary practices by giving drugs or substances to a horse with no regard as the effect on the health of the horse or that can affect performance in a race will be on the hot seat as a result of this approach,” said Duncan Patterson, Chairman of the ARCI DTSP Committee.
ARCI President Ed Martin indicated that the proposal was developed as a result of commission tests revealing that some horses had cobalt levels fifty or a hundred times higher than what would be considered “normal” even after routine vitamin administrations. These horses were believed to have been injected with cobalt chloride and the test results caused regulatory veterinarians to question the impact and side effects on the health of the horses in question.
“Nobody should give anything to a horse unless you know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that it is safe,” Martin said, noting that the draft rule would give regulatory veterinarians and commissions an important weapon to protect horses. “Nor should horsepersons, bettors, or casual fans tolerate anyone experimenting at any time with excessive doses of substances to horses just because the horse participates in horse racing,” he said.
Those developing the draft believe that commissions would no longer have to wait for research or adopted testing thresholds to be developed and enacted in order to take action when a licensee cannot prove that what they gave to a horse was safe and did not affected performance.
The DTSP Committee acknowledges that veterinarians have wide latitude under state veterinary statutes. The committee is concerned about the overuse and possible misuse of drugs or substances by some who might depart from acceptable veterinary practice in significant ways.
The draft rule can be found on the ARCI website, http://arcicom.businesscatalyst.com, and comments are being solicited from organizations and individuals.
The RCI Model Rules Committee will discuss this matter when it meets on July 15, 2015 in Deadwood, South Dakota.
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