01/31/2013 5:10PM

Massachusetts Gaming Commission plans to adopt Association of Racing Commissioners International rules on therapeutic medications

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The Massachusetts Gaming Commission on Thursday said it planned to adopt a set of rules on therapeutic medications that are being pushed as model rules for all racing jurisdictions by the Association of Racing Commissioners International.

With the statement, Massachusetts becomes the first state to explicitly endorse the rules, which call for the prohibition on all drugs aside from 24 therapeutic medications. The rules include withdrawal times that are set to guide horsemen on when it is safe to administer the drugs to avoid having a positive called as a result of post-race testing.

If Massachusetts adopts the rules, the state would no longer permit the race-day use of the painkiller phenylbutazone. Massachusetts is one of the only states in the United States that allows the drug to be administered on race day. Nearly all other states prohibit the administration of phenylbutazone at least 24 hours before a race.

“It is very encouraging to see Massachusetts taking a leadership position in this area,” said Chip Tuttle, the chief operating officer of Suffolk Downs, the state’s only Thoroughbred track. “These measures will enhance Suffolk Downs’ longstanding commitment to the health and safety of our equine athletes and the integrity of our competition.”

The RCI developed the model rules in consultation with a wide number of industry groups, including the Racing Medication and Testing Consortium. The model rules are not yet complete, but officials with the RCI said that they plan to distribute them to all racing commissions within the next several weeks and will aggressively lobby for the rules to be adopted.