11/19/2014 4:27PM

Louisiana gets ball rolling on stricter medication rules


The Louisiana Racing Commission has formally begun a process to adopt a set of new medication rules that are being supported by a number of national racing organizations as a way to align the country’s racing jurisdictions.

Last week, the commission approved a “notice to adopt” the rules, which provide for the regulated use of 26 therapeutic medications but ban all other drugs. The notice could lead to the adoption of the rules as early as six months from now, according to the commission’s executive director, Charles Gardiner.

“This sets the administrative process in motion,” Gardiner said.

Louisiana has been considered a longshot by many of the groups leading the effort to get the uniform rules adopted in the U.S.’s 38 individual racing jurisdictions. The state has some of the most liberal medication policies in the U.S., and horsemen in the state, both Thoroughbred and Quarter Horse, have not been openly supportive of the uniform-rules effort.

If the rules are adopted, horsemen in the state would face much stricter regulation of the bronchial dilator clenbuterol, a highly popular drug in the Quarter Horse community, and of corticosteroids, which are injected into joints to reduce inflammation. Also, several painkillers, including phenylbutazone and flunixin, would face lower threshold levels in post-race drug tests.

In addition, the anti-bleeding medication furosemide, which is also known as Lasix, would not be permitted to be administered on raceday without supervision from regulators or security employees. Currently, private practitioners can administer the drug up to four hours prior to a race.

The formal adoption of the rules will not take place without first being subject to several public-comment periods and another vote of the commission, Gardiner said. The adoption could also be delayed if the commission does not meet several deadlines required for posting the rules in the state register, a requirement for regulatory agencies, Gardiner said.