04/24/2013 7:12PM

RCI proposes harsh penalties for repeat drug offenders

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A new penalty schedule for medication violations that would include harsh sanctions for multiple violations of prohibited drugs was introduced to regulators over the past several days at the Association of Racing Commissioners International convention in New Orleans, according to officials.

The recommended penalty schedule, which has been devised in several iterations by multiple groups over the past two years, was presented to the RCI’s Drug Testing Standards and Practices Committee on Tuesday and the RCI’s Model Rules Committee on Wednesday by Alan Foreman, the chairman of the National Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association. The proposal is now expected to be distributed to stakeholders throughout the racing industry in an effort to get feedback in advance of a mid-year effort to adopt a model rule based on the new policy.

Supporters of the new penalty schedule consider the adoption of stricter sanctions for repeat offenders the final stage of a multi-year effort to change the regulation of medication in U.S. Thoroughbred racing. If all goes as supporters plan, the penalty schedule will be affixed to a set of model rules governing allowable therapeutic medications that eight states have already pledged to adopt by Jan. 1, 2014. More states are expected to join the effort to adopt the model rules as the year progresses.

Many of racing’s critics contend that racing regulations do a poor job of doling out punishment to the sport’s serial offenders, contributing to carelessness and experimentation with drugs. According to a analysis conducted by the Jockey Club using six years of data on medication violations, a small minority of trainers account for the vast majority of U.S. medication violations, but nearly all of those violations are overages of commonly used therapeutic medications such as phenylbutazone, the painkiller; furosemide, the anti-bleeding medication; and various corticosteroids.

The Jockey Club has been an early supporter of a points-based system, and it began distributing its own version of a similar policy last year.

Under the new penalty schedule presented to the RCI committees on Tuesday and Wednesday, horsemen would rack up points for violations of medication rules, with the amount of points linked to the severity of the violation, in much the same way that points are applied to driver’s licenses for various infractions. Once a trainer reaches a certain level of points, then the regulations would require additional penalties, over and above the penalty assigned for the specific violation.

Violations for most of the most commonly used therapeutic medications would count for one point, while others in the therapeutic category would count for 2 points. Violations for prohibited substances – those that are not on a special list of 24 “controlled medications” – would count for anywhere from one point to six points, with the amount determined by a classification system containing a laundry list of both human and animal medications, based on their ability to influence a horse’s performance.

A trainer who accumulates as little as 3 points will be handed an additional suspension of 30 days – a trainer could hit that level with three overages of furosemide, or one overage of clenbuterol with one overage of phenylbutazone. At six points, a trainer would face an additional 60 days; at nine points, 120 days; and at 11 points or anything over, a 360-day suspension.

Also under the proposed, points can be expunged from a trainer’s record under a timeline based on the category of the drug. For violations for those drugs in the lowest category, the points will be expunged after one year; the next category up, two years; and the next category after that, three years. Points for a violation of a drug in the so-called A category – drugs that have a high potential to affect racing performance and which have no known therapeutic value – will never be expunged from a trainer’s record.

Rocco B More than 1 year ago
Whats the difference if you suspend somebody and their wife or girlfriend saddles the horses, the rules of racing are designed to be circumvented. If you aint cheatin, you aint trying is the motto for all of the racing "sports".
Nathan More than 1 year ago
this is retarded. keep it simple. get caught and you are out. also, none of this 1 year from testing to announcing a positive. this game is so warped, it's a joke.
Glen Brown More than 1 year ago
suspend jockey and trainer for med. violations as they do in Europe.Appeals take effect after suspension has been served.Thats the answer!!
mikey More than 1 year ago
Owners and trainers love to bet.When they bet they want to win like everyone else.Certin owners and trainers are bettors these are the first guys to keep an eye on.Nothing hurts more than seeing an owner cashing a big ticket,than 6 weeks after find out the horse was juiced.
Ray Sousa More than 1 year ago
heres a harsh reality this is the only business where you can cheat your customers and continue with no consequences after you're caught....anywhere else you go to jail....harsh is not a 30 day suspension or a 60 day suspension or if you cheat multiple times we will eventually suspend you for a year or two...harsh is first serious infraction you get 6 months 2nd serious infraction you're out and an investigation of betting patterns to determine how much you benefited from your cheating followed by a stiff fine..imagine if it turned out a casino rigged the roulette wheel and got caught would the state give the croupier a 2 week suspension or ask the casino to close for a few hours no there would be a criminal investigation and jail time for those responsible...im beginning to think that the states should look at tracks where there are multiple miracle trainers and hold the track accountable for lax testing and lax enforcement of the rules they would either protect the public or loose racing dates or even their license.
Lise McLain More than 1 year ago
Hi! What does harsh sanctions actually mean in terms of medication violators? It is about time to install "genuine" harsh sanctions for violators, and I mean harsh. Two strikes and you are out for good. That is it. No excuses. They don't belong in this business. These owners and trainers MUST know the rules and regulations (if they don't, then hire a lawyer) of what is allowed and what is not allowed as it relates to medications. Furthermore, expose these violators to the public and "really" expose them that they may wish they had never done this to a horse(s) in the first place. Additionally, "tough" people need to be placed on "boards" who will make "tough" decisions about this in the best interest of the horse. I keep saying that the horse MUST COME FIRST. It is his or her interest that must come first. This industry is dying in my opinion, and someone needs to "step up to the plate" and do the right thing. Lastly, those owners (trainers too) who abuse, neglect, abandon, and send their horses to the slaughter house also need to be exposed to the public, and maybe these horses will be given a second, third, and possibly a fourth chance or more instead. Most fans are turned off by this. I am. Look what happened to Dyna King. This is a tragic story. Needless medicating of the horses does not belong in this industry. It is the "merit" of the horses that actually count. Barbaro won on merit. Do the horses have the actual qualities in order to win races without performance enhancing drugs? Do they? This industry needs honesty, and safety issues must be addressed. Thank you! P.S. The parent company of Churchill Downs just bought the Oxford casino in Oxford, Maine (tv reports, etc), and will they bring back thoroughbred horse racing to Maine? I would love it. Lise from Maine
docfagah More than 1 year ago
No chance for thoroughbred racing in Maine. Love to see it too. Doc from Maine.
Don Reed More than 1 year ago
Positives? Suspend and ban the owners.
Bellwether4U More than 1 year ago
What about the ******* that provides the BS that goes in the SPIKE???...
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
works for the trainer who works for the owner...take it to the top
Greg Scherr More than 1 year ago
I have been suggesting that if a trainer is suspended his horses cannot run anywhere til the suspension is over, owners will NOT tolerate that risk and it would stop, glad someone else sees the same thing
Robert Tuccille More than 1 year ago
make it where the owner gets hit hard they the owner will look for horsemen not so call trainers i mean
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
if you want to get serious you need to take it to the top...ban the owners as well as the trainers...if an owner is going to be banned if a horse they own tests positive you can bet no trainer will risk horses testing positive
Elias Katogiritis More than 1 year ago
No wonder horse racing is a dying sport, the people who run it are a joke they call these penalties ( tough) how about years instead of days? That's tough, morons,
Bellwether4U More than 1 year ago
Agree as they are FIXING the ******* races and endangering the Horses/Jocks...Where is a provision for giving the gamblers their money back???...Same old wore out BS!!!...A bunch of ******** ruining "The Game"...