RMTC: ‘Significant Progress’ Made in Medication Reforms

by | 12.10.2014 | 8:21am

The horse racing industry made significant progress toward the uniform adoption of national medication reforms in 2014, as regulators in multiple jurisdictions adopted model rules developed by the Racing Medication and Testing Consortium (RMTC) and the Association of Racing Commissioners International. The new model rules include a Controlled Therapeutic Medications Schedule, third-party administration of furosemide, a multiple medication violation (MMV) penalty system and a requirement for laboratory accreditation and participation in an industry external quality assurance program. The past 12 months brought major gains in the number of jurisdictions that are presently operating or soon-to-be operating under one or more of the reforms.

“Throughout 2014, the RMTC staff has traveled extensively and spent innumerable hours consulting with state regulators and others to assist in the full implementation of these new model rules that are so important to the safety and integrity of horse racing,” said Dr. Dionne Benson, executive director of the RMTC. “We thank all of those who have worked in good faith to accomplish an unprecedented level of uniformity in 2014, and look forward to continuing the effort in 2015 and beyond.”

By early 2015, racing states operating under the Controlled Therapeutic Medication Schedule are anticipated to increase from four to at least 16 – a 300% improvement since January 2014. The Schedule identifies medications that have been recognized as necessary for the routine treatment of illness or injury in the horse. Arkansas, California, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Oregon and West Virginia have or will soon join Delaware, Maryland, Massachusetts and Virginia in regulating therapeutic medications using the new Schedule.

By early 2015, the number of horse racing states utilizing RMTC-accredited labs and an external quality assurance program for their equine drug and medication testing services will increase from six to 23 – a 283% gain from just 12 months ago. The laboratory accreditation and quality assurance programs were built upon protocols established by the World Anti-Doping Agency, the gold standard in human competition.  Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Delaware, Idaho, Indiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Jersey, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, Washington, West Virginia and Wyoming have or will soon join California, Kentucky, Maine, New Mexico, Ohio and Virginia as states using only RMTC-accredited lab testing services.  Labs in New York and Pennsylvania are expected to be RMTC-accredited sometime in early 2015, and Texas has recently applied for RMTC accreditation.

States that have implemented the MMV penalty system will increase no less than 200%, from three in January 2014 to at least nine by early 2015. The MMV penalty system – designed to work in a manner similar to the way states track an individual's traffic violations – provides for enhanced penalties for individuals who accumulate multiple medication violations, regardless of the jurisdiction in which they occur. Arkansas, Colorado, Indiana, Maryland, New Jersey and North Dakota have or will soon join Delaware, Massachusetts and Virginia.

Those states requiring third-party administration of furosemide (commonly referred as Lasix) on race day are anticipated to rise from 13 in January 2014 to at least 16 by early 2015 – a 23% increase. Arkansas, California, Oregon and Pennsylvania will join Colorado, Delaware, Indiana, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts Minnesota, New Jersey, North Dakota, Virginia and West Virginia in implementing this policy which restricts access to the horse on race day.

“We are very encouraged by the industry's willingness to embrace reform and urge all horse racing jurisdictions in the United States to adopt the reforms in their entirely without further delay,” said Alex Waldrop, chairman of the RMTC and president and CEO of the NTRA.

The RMTC consists of 23 racing industry stakeholders and organizations that represent Thoroughbred, Standardbred, American Quarter Horse and Arabian racing. The organization works to develop and promote uniform rules, policies and testing standards at the national level; coordinate research and educational programs that seek to ensure the integrity of racing and the health and welfare of racehorses and participants; and protect the interests of the racing public.

  • mike smith

    So where are Florida and Louisiana on this list? This whole charade is becoming more and more pathetic as time goes on. To paraphrase that famous Burger King commercial from the 80’s, “Where’s the science???” The RMTC is not referencing it because either the science hasn’t been done or they have misinterpreted the publications that the RMTC puts forth as evidence. And this regards each and all of the so-called 26 drugs.

  • Happy Horse

    I just can’t take the RMTC seriously. Any organization that promulgates or suggests permissible drug use and then allows its Vice Chairman to act as counsel for horsemen that violate the rules/thresholds advocated by the RMTC is not the appropriate organization to be at the forefront of the raceday meds discussion. I can only hope that the WHOA folks and USADA supporters document this and other seeming conflicts of interest when promoting their agenda.

    • Alex

      Snake Oil Merchant is the appropriate and well deserved title for Alan Foreman; the RMTC’s Vice Chairman. lately Snake Oil Merchant Foreman has been missing in action. He isn’t at the 41st annual Global Symposium on Racing and Gaming presented by the University of Arizona’s Racetrack Industry Program, nor is he listed to be presenting anything at the up coming RMTC & ARCI Model Rule meeting. Snake Oil Merchant Foreman ran all over the country selling what has turned out to be many flawed rules, wrong thresholds, and wrong withdraw times. His actions of getting many of these flawed laws adopted has caused horsemen who followed the rules to be fined, suspended, and to lose purses. Foreman’s rules that were supposed to be uniform haven’t turned out that way either. Dr. Scott Palmer in New York had to make many changes to Foreman’s (RMTC) rules before New York could adopt them.

      • Happy Horse

        Isn’t that exactly the point ? You announce some thresholds to make it appear that you are cleaning up the sport but you leave the waters muddy enough that you can argue against the positives.

        • Lynn

          Alan Foreman convinced many state racing commissions to adopt rules, thresholds, and withdraw times that are wrong.

  • Peyton

    He must have had a long arm to pat himself on the back. One thing that has crossed my mind is that designer drugs for human consumption can be made in this day to mimic other drugs which are illegal but they are formulated so that they do not fall under the laws. They will have slightly different molecular combinations to evade the rules. It’s likely illegal horse drugs are being made the same way and so any RMTC attempt to catch cheaters will always be behind in the game. I’m not saying they shouldn’t try to stop the use of the listed ones, but it may be an almost impossible task to clean up horse racing as long any drugs are allowed.

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