07/29/2014 4:05PM

Positives spike after change in West Virginia drug rules


The West Virginia Racing Commission will meet on Friday to discuss possible responses to a spate of recent drug positives that have cropped up in the wake of changes to the state’s medication rules and a transition to a new testing laboratory, the executive director of the commission said on Tuesday.

Over the past several weeks, according to West Virginia Racing Commission executive director John Myers, the state’s drug-testing laboratory in Pennsylvania has reported multiple positives for drugs that have new withdrawal guidelines under rules that became effective on July 9. While the drugs are not those that are considered to have powerful performance-enhancing effects, the drugs do include anti-inflammatory medications like corticosteroids that are more strictly regulated under the state’s new rules, which are being adopted in many states in the mid-Atlantic and elsewhere under an ongoing effort by many U.S. racing jurisdictions to align medication rules state-to-state.

“They’re all on the new therapeutics list we just adopted,” Myers said, referring to the drugs that have been detected. “Those are the ones that are showing up right now. They’re not the Class As or Bs.”

Myers said that the splits of the samples that have produced positives are being sent automatically to Truesdail Laboratory in California for re-testing to confirm the earlier results and determine the concentrations of the drugs. Normally, split samples are not re-tested unless a trainer requests the procedure after being notified of a positive.

The spate of positives, which was first reported by the Paulick Report, have created a sense of confusion in West Virginia among horsemen, despite the racing commission’s efforts to publicize the new rules prior to the regulations going into effect earlier this month. Earlier this week, a Louisiana trainer who had shipped his horse to run in Saturday’s West Virginia Derby scratched the horse after realizing that he had administered a medication, the bronchial dilator clenbuterol, too close to the race.

The run of positive tests also harkens to a recent spate of positives for another regulated medication, the muscle relaxant methocarbamol, in Pennsylvania and Delaware. Regulators have traced the positives to an unanticipated side effect when using the drug in combination with phenylbutazone, a regulated painkiller. Delaware has also adopted the uniform medication guidelines.

Myers said that the West Virginia commission will meet on Friday to discuss whether to issue trainers warnings for the recent positives rather than fines and suspensions, among other possibilities. He said he was not certain if the commission would adopt the measure, or any other measure, citing the unavailability of the results yet from the Truesdail tests.

Truesdail will also test all of the primary samples from the nine stakes races that are being run at Mountaineer on Saturday, including the Grade 2 West Virginia Derby, the track’s richest race, Myers said.

The West Virginia Racing Commission is currently bidding out its testing services to labs in the U.S. that have been accredited by the Racing Medication Testing Consortium, according to Myers. Under the new rules, post-race drug tests must be performed by an accredited laboratory, such as Truesdail. The state’s current lab, Dalare Associates, which is unaccredited, holds a contract to conduct the testing.