04/28/2011 1:37PM

Racing commissioners call for rethinking of Lasix rules

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The board of directors of the Association of Racing Commissioners International has formally adopted a resolution calling for the “re-examination” of policies linked to the raceday use of the diuretic furosemide to treat bleeding in the lungs, the association said on Thursday.

The adoption is the first formal measure taken by the RCI since its outgoing and incoming chairmen in late March broached the issue of repealing regulations allowing for the raceday use of furosemide, also known as Salix or Lasix. Following the comments, a number of influential organizations have endorsed the call, although horsemen’s groups have urged caution.

In the resolution, the RCI also said that U.S. states should coordinate with international racing jurisdictions on medication policies. The U.S. is the only major racing jurisdiction that allows for the raceday use of Lasix, and its policies on the use of painkillers like non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications and corticosteroids are also typically more liberal than other racing countries.

As part of the effort to examine the raceday use of furosemide, the Racing Medication and Testing Consortium, the American Association of Equine Practitioners, and the National Thoroughbred Racing Association have planned a yet-to-be-scheduled conference to discuss the impact of U.S. medication policies. The RCI resolution said that it supported the summit.

Specifically, the RCI said, the resolution stated that the summit should “identify and assess the effectiveness” of alternative medications to treat bleeding; examine current rules that deal with the exclusion of horses that have had documented cases of bleeding; and examine whether the rollback of the raceday use of furosemide “would have an adverse and meaningful impact on the overall health” of horses and jockeys.