12/07/2016 12:18PM

Jockey Club opposes changes to Multiple Medication Violation Penalty System

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A proposal to modify a part of the recommended model rules relating to multiple medication violations has met a rebuke by The Jockey Club, with the organization stating that it will ask for the proposal to be removed from the agenda of a Thursday meeting of the Association of Racing Commissioners International model-rules committee.

In effect, the modifications would reduce the lengths of mandatory suspensions that would kick in after trainers are charged with multiple violations of medication rules in a specific time frame and would reduce the amount of time in which the infractions stay on a trainer’s record for the purposes of assigning the additional suspensions. In addition, the rules would eliminate the assignment of points for several regulated therapeutic medications. 

The rules, which are called the Multiple Medication Violation Penalty System, is akin to the system in which points accrue on a driver’s license, and it is part of a four-pronged effort seeking to align all U.S. racing states under one set of rules.

The modifications were approved by the Racing Medication and Testing Consortium last week, with the support of 22 of the 23 members of the RMTC’s board. The lone member of the board to vote against the proposal was The Jockey Club representative, officials said.

The RMTC is funded by a broad cross section of U.S. racing organizations and racing companies, and its recommendations are typically taken up by the Association of Racing Commissioners International, an umbrella group of racing commissions. Individual racing commissions are responsible for approving and enforcing rules in their own states, and the RCI’s approval of a model rule is a tacit directive for state racing commissions to put the rules on their books.

The RCI’s model-rule committee is scheduled to meet Thursday in Tucson, Ariz., following the close of the Symposium on Racing and Gaming, an annual conference. The committee is also expected to take up a model rule on out-of-competition testing that has proven controversial.

In a statement released Monday, Jockey Club chairman James Gagliano called the MMV proposal a “watered-down version” of the original set of rules, which were hashed out several years ago.

“The industry has long struggled to create and implement national uniform rules of drug testing and enforcement,” the statement read. “Weakening the penalties that were designed to reduce the frequency of repeat offenses is a step in the wrong direction.”

The Jockey Club carries enormous weight in the industry, and it draws support from a handful of other influential racing organizations. Horsemen’s representatives, however, noted that 22 other organizations voted for the modifications, and they said that the unmodified proposal had little hope of being adopted in all U.S. racing jurisdictions without their support.

“This is the way to do things properly,” Eric Hamelback, the chief executive of the National Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association, said during an interview Monday in Tucson. “Uniformity is only achievable when those who are in the majority, and those who are in position to change the rules, get together and work together.”

The current MMV system has been adopted in 10 U.S. racing jurisdictions, and it is under consideration in eight other jurisdictions.

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