04/11/2011 11:42AM

Jockey Club comes out in support of eliminating raceday medication

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The Jockey Club would support an initiative proposed by the Association of Racing Commissioners International to eliminate the use of raceday medications within the next five years, according to a statement released on Monday quoting the organization’s chairman, Ogden Mills “Dinny” Phipps.

“We have often voiced concern and we sincerely believe that the overuse of medication endangers our human and equine athletes, threatens the integrity of our sport and erodes consumer confidence in our game,” Phipps said.

The statement was released in support of comments made by the outgoing and incoming chairmen of the Association of Racing Commissioners International at the close of its annual conference on March 28 in New Orleans. The chairmen had both said that the U.S. needs to adopt medication policies that align with the raceday bans in other international racing jurisdictions.

“A five-year phaseout is reasonable to bring North American racing policies in line with what is going on in other parts of the world like Europe and Hong Kong,” said the outgoing chairman, Dan Hartman, the executive director of the Colorado Racing Commission.

In his statement, Phipps cited the prevalent use of the diuretic furosemide (Lasix), which is used by horsemen ostensibly to treat exercise-induced pulmonary hemorrhage, or bleeding in the lungs. A number of studies have cited the drug’s efficacy in reducing bleeding episodes, but other studies have also demonstrated that horses that are treated with the drug run faster than horses that are untreated.

The statement also said that the Jockey Club was “not advocating for a so-called 'zero-tolerance’ policy where results may be influenced by the precision of laboratory equipment used to test the samples,” a reference to the need for racing commissions to maintain threshold levels for therapeutic medications used during training.

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