07/19/2013 1:11PM

RMTC approves point system for drug violations

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The board of the Racing Medication and Testing Consortium has endorsed a model rule that would assign points to trainers with medication violations, a scheme that could dramatically alter the penalties that are levied on horsemen who have multiple positives for illegal medications.

The RMTC, which is funded by a wide cross-section of racing groups, has forwarded the model rule to the Association of Racing Commissioners International, which will consider the rule at a meeting in Saratoga Springs on July 30-31. If the RCI sanctions the rule, it will be sent to individual racing commissions with the recommendation for adoption.

The model rule has been in development for two years, with input from horsemen, racetracks, and regulators. While one horsemen’s group, the National Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association, has endorsed the rule as it is written, another group, the National Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association, has raised concerns about several of its provisions, and the NHBPA expects to lobby for changes to the rule at the RCI meeting, according to Phil Hanrahan, chief executive officer of the NHBPA.

Under the proposal, trainers would be assigned points for medication positives based on the severity of the infraction. When a trainer accrues a certain number of points, additional penalties would be levied, over and above the penalty for the individual infraction. Points for all but the most serious infractions could be expunged from a trainer’s record if the trainer is not cited for any additional infractions over a certain time period.

Supporters of the proposal contend that the new system would address shortcomings in racing’s penalty scheme that allow a small percentage of trainers to rack up relatively minor medication infractions without facing increasing penalties.

Hanrahan said that the NHBPA supports the concept of the proposal, but that the organization believes that the number of points assigned to minor infractions should be reduced. In addition, the NHBPA wants a reduction in the time period to expunge points from a trainer’s record, and a change that would allow trainers to serve any additional suspensions arising from the points scheme concurrently with the suspension for the specific penalty.

“We think these changes are reasonable,” Hanrahan said on Friday. The NHBPA board endorsed the changes a week ago at its annual convention, Hanrahan said.