Updated on 09/16/2011 7:37AM

Consensus blueprint for drug reform on table


NEW YORK - A blueprint for reform in medication and drug testing - currently the most divisive issue in racing - was unveiled Friday in a report released by the American Association of Equine Practitioners and endorsed by most of the leading organizations in racing.

Among the recommendations are the standardization of medication rules in all racing states; the creation of a national advisory board to oversee medication research and development; and the establishment of a broad funding mechanism to support research.

was developed by a panel of 34 racing officials representing more than 15 organizations at a Dec. 4 summit meeting at the University of Arizona Symposium on Racing. The report concentrates on broad strokes, many of which had already been discussed in public at the symposium, and avoids details in many controversial areas. Developers of the report said they have so far declined to address many details for fear of jeopardizing the reform effort's support, which so far has been surprisingly strong.

"The dialogue of the summit and collaboration of the participants was unprecedented, and we believe the summit was a key first step in solving the complex and challenging issues surrounding medication," said Dr. Wayne McIlwraith, the immediate past president of the AAEP and one of the reform effort's leaders.

According to the report, the panel reached a consensus on a recommendation that the diuretic furosemide, popularly known as Lasix, should be the only drug allowed to be administered on race day. That recommendation alone has already isolated one organization that may be critical to the reform effort, the Kentucky Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association.

The report calls for the revision of guidelines on penalties and drug classifications, the collection of both blood and urine samples, and enhanced security on the backstretch, which have been common themes of reform efforts in the past.

The report also made headway on a number of divisive issues, including a recommendation to establish threshold levels for certain performance-enhancing medications. That recommendation was hotly debated at the summit, participants said, until critics of threshold levels were successful in inserting language calling for "scientifically based withdrawal time guidelines."

That struggle, and similar debates over how to treat possible contaminants and the use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory agents, illustrates how difficult the reform effort will be as the developers move forward on the project.

Jim Gallagher, the head of a medication task force set up by the National Thoroughbred Racing Association, said Friday that the group hopes to meet again by the end of January, if not in person, then by conference call.

The Kentucky HBPA has already said that it will not participate in the effort because of the Lasix language, which would restrict raceday drugs to that anti-bleeding medication but would allow other drugs provided the medications were "supported by sound scientific principles."

Marty Maline, the executive director of the KHBPA, said on Friday that the organization's board believes that the scientific community should first prove why certain drugs allowed in Kentucky on race day - such as steroids, anti-bleeding medications other than Lasix, and many NSAID's - should not be allowed.

"Unless there's scientific evidence to the contrary, we're not prepared to change our policy," Maline said.

December 4, 2001 - Tucson, Arizona
Prepared by Schlegel & Associates, Sarasota, Florida

The attached list of racing organizations and officials were invited to attend a one-day workshop for the purpose of determining if agreement could be reached as to the need for a uniform policy for racehorse medication in the United States, and if so, where agreement can be reached on elements of such a policy. The workshop consisted of two segments: a two-hour open session briefing by experts on topics pertinent to the purpose of the Summit, and an intensive seven-hour workshop for the invited representatives which was conducted by a professional facilitator from outside the racing industry.

Workshop Results
Significantly, consensus was achieved on a number of general and specific points that can lead to the development of an industry-wide uniform medication policy statement.

The following points of consensus were considered to be fundamental:

* There should be uniformity across state lines and in all jurisdictions.

* Any medication policy must take into consideration the integrity of horseracing, the health and welfare of the horse, the long-term interests of the breeds, and the safety of the rider and driver.

* A National Advisory Body should be created to address the development of medication policies and practices. In addition, a National Reference Laboratory or Laboratories should be developed in order to address issues of testing, e.g. research into and method development for new substances and quality assurance and accreditation for all laboratories conducting post-race sample analysis.

* Education and dissemination of consistent information about industry policies to all segments of the industry and the betting public and the public at large is essential.

* It is the highest priority that a broad-based funding mechanism be developed to support these initiatives identified in this document.

A uniform medication policy statement takes into consideration four basic component areas: Medication, Testing, Security and Enforcement. The scope of the discussion was limited to these areas and listed below are the major points in which consensus was achieved in the allotted time. It is recognized that there are other issues that will need to be addressed in the future.

1. Medication

* Furosemide is the only medication to be administered on race day. Any changes in this policy should be supported by sound scientific principles with the health and welfare of the horse and integrity of racing as the prime considerations.

* Furosemide should be made available to all horses on raceday at the responsible parties' option.

* Guidelines on pre-race administration of Furosemide must be implemented by the industry. Post-race screening of urine utilizing specific gravity, to ensure compliance, should be mandatory. Quantitation of Furosemide in serum must be performed for samples that do not meet minimum specific gravity criteria.

* One of the five FDA-approved non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs may be administered no later than 24 hours prior to the race.

* Substances that should have a true zero tolerance level (utilizing the most sensitive testing method available) if found in the horse on race day must be identified.

* RCI medication guidelines and classification system should be reviewed and revised as needed.

2. Testing

* There must be uniformity in testing procedures and methods amongst all laboratories.

* Both blood and urine samples must be collected and tested.

* Adequate funding mechanisms for expanded testing (e.g. more ELISA's per sample) and research and development must be developed.

* The development of scientifically based withdrawal time guidelines and/or decision levels for certain therapeutic medications is a priority.

* These developed withdrawal times for identified therapeutic medications should be communicated to the racing industry.

3. Security

* Enhanced security is an essential part of an overall medication program. Standards of practice should be established regarding the assurance of compliance with pre-race medication rules and to prevent improper pre-race administration of medication.

* Properly trained security personnel are essential to the management and implementation of a medication program in the racing industry.

4. Enforcement

* Ongoing training of racing officials regarding medication developments must be assured.

* Strong, fair and swift enforcement of medication policies, consistent with the severity of the offense, is encouraged.

* Substances that may be present in the racehorse as a result of contamination must be identified.

* Because the potential of contamination resulting in a post race positive is recognized, there is a responsibility to investigate these cases thoroughly before initiating regulatory action. The concentration in the test sample is one important fact to be considered in the enforcement/adjudication process.

* Additional research to determine if decision levels can be identified for products that could be dietary or environmental contaminants should be supported.

* RCI penalty guidelines should be reviewed and revised as needed.

* Veterinarians should be required to document the administration of all medications to racehorses, and medication records submitted by veterinarians should be considered by the enforcing authority prior to taking action against the licensee.

* Confidentiality for accused parties must be maintained as long as is legally permissible under state law.

Commitment to Continue
The workshop concluded with unanimous commitment by all participating organizations and individuals to assist in the next steps to be taken to finalize development of this uniform medication policy statement, and creation of an action plan for its implementation. It was agreed that a follow-up workshop, comprised of the same individuals participating in this workshop, should take place in the very near future.

Summit Participants
Dr. Robert Lewis and Dr. Rick Arthur, American Association of Equine Practitioners; Dan Fick and Frank Vessels, American Quarter Horse Association; Lonny Powell and Dennis Lee, Association of Racing Commissioners International; Stan Bergstein, Harness Tracks of America; Remi Bellocq and Kent Stirling, National Horsemen's Benevolent Protective Association; Hans Stahl and Dr. Ted Hill, The Jockey Club; Jim Gallagher and Dr. Scot Waterman, National Thoroughbred Racing Association; Ben Nolt and Mike Hopkins, North American Pari-Mutuel Regulators Association; Alan Foreman, Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association; Dan Metzger and Gary Biszantz, Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association; Fred Noe, United States Trotting Association; Sam Ramer, United Thoroughbred Trainers Association; Chris Scherf, Thoroughbred Racetracks of America; Paul Berube, Thoroughbred Racing Protective Bureau; Richard Mandella, trainer; John Ward, trainer; Dr. Tom Brokken, racetrack veterinarian; Dr. Milton McClure, racetrack veterinarian; Ed Halpern, California Thoroughbred Trainers Association; Dr. Ron Jensen, regulatory veterinarian; Terry Meyocks, New York Racing Association; David Switzer, Kentucky Thoroughbred Association; John Van deCamp, Thoroughbred Owners of California; Alex Waldrop, Churchill Downs; Darrell Hare, Jockey's Guild; and Dr. Rick Sams, chemist.