09/12/2014 1:15PM

Arkansas adopts uniform medication rules

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The Arkansas Racing Commission on Thursday approved a new set of medication rules that will bring the state into line with a handful of other states that have adopted the regulations in an ongoing effort to unify U.S. racing jurisdictions under one set of rules.

The Arkansas commission adopted both a new set of rules dealing with therapeutic and non-therapeutic medications and a new set of penalties for multiple violators, with the regulations set to go into effect prior to the opening of Oaklawn Park in early 2015. Oaklawn is the only Thoroughbred track in Arkansas.

Six other states have fully adopted both sets of new rules, while a handful of other states have adopted the medication rules in full or in part, including Kentucky and California. The number of states to have adopted the new rules has been criticized by some racing groups as being well short of representing uniformity.

Alex Waldrop, the chairman of the Racing Medication and Testing Consortium, the group that developed the rules in consultation with industry groups, said Friday that the move by Arkansas to adopt the rules was a positive indication that the uniform-rules movement was gaining steam.

“Arkansas was not one of those states that was on the shortlist where people thought they would be immediately adopting these rules,” Waldrop said at a legislative briefing Friday held by the National Thoroughbred Racing Association. Waldrop is the president of the NTRA, which conducts federal lobbying on behalf of the racing industry.

Under the new Arkansas rules, 26 medications deemed therapeutic will be allowed to appear in post-race samples in concentrations that are not believed to impact performance or interfere with pre-race exams. A finding of any other medication will be considered a positive.

Also under the new rules, private veterinarians in Arkansas will be prohibited from administering race-day shots of the anti-bleeding medication furosemide, a change that has produced some growing pains in other jurisdictions.

Most racing-industry groups have endorsed the new sets of rules, but The Jockey Club indicated last month that it will press for federal oversight of racing under its belief that the effort to unify racing states is progressing too slowly. The Jockey Club and many influential owners and breeders also support an outright ban on the race-day use of furosemide, which is also known as Lasix, whereas the new rules continue to allow for race-day administrations, although under more controlled conditions.