09/18/2013 9:58AM

Maryland Racing Commission approves new medication rules


The Maryland Racing Commission on Tuesday approved a set of medication rules that has been endorsed by a number of prominent national racing organizations for adoption in all U.S. racing jurisdictions.

The rules, which will go into effect Jan. 1, will tighten a number of medication practices in Maryland, particularly by limiting race-day medication to the anti-bleeding drug furosemide. Maryland currently allows the race-day administration of furosemide plus three so-called “adjunct bleeding” medications that are administered in conjunction with furosemide to mitigate the effects of bleeding in the lungs, even though no studies have been conducted to determine whether the adjunct-bleeding medications are efficacious.

The rules also will prohibit private veterinarians from administering furosemide, commonly referred to as “Lasix,” on race day, according to J. Mike Hopkins, the executive director of the Maryland Racing Commission. Furosemide shots will be administered by state veterinarians or “appointees” of the commission, Hopkins said, with the recommendation that the shots be administered approximately four hours prior to a race.

Overall, the rules allow for the therapeutic use of 24 medications and include recommended withdrawal times for those drugs in addition to threshold levels for testing. A post-race finding of any other drug is considered a violation under the rules.

Eight states in the East, including New York and New Jersey, have pledged to adopt the rules by the end of the year, along with several states in the Midwest. Other major racing states are reviewing the rules, but the effort to adopt the rules is expected to meet resistance from some state horsemen’s groups, especially in Kentucky.