08/12/2012 2:13PM

Round Table: United States Anti-Doping Agency chief suggests unified, top-down medication enforcement


SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - The racing industry’s effort to police and enforce its medication rules could benefit by the adoption of a top-down structure employed by the countries that participate in the Olympic Games, the chief executive of the United States Anti-Doping Agency said Sunday at the Jockey Club Round Table on Matters Pertaining to Racing.

Travis Tygart, the chief executive of the USADA since 2007, said during his keynote presentation that Olympic countries were forced to adopt the top-down model in the late 1990s after the Olympics were rocked by doping scandals that sapped the public’s confidence and interest in them. Under the model, countries whose athletes participate in the games must adhere to a set of rules and standards devised and approved by the World Anti-Doping Agency, which then monitors the individual testing and enforcement activities of its member countries.

That structure differs in at least one very significant aspect from racing’s regulatory framework, a structure that has come under intense fire from critics who contend that cheaters in racing consistently evade tough sanctions. All 38 racing jurisdictions in the U.S. have their own sets of rules and the powers to enforce them, and no overarching body has any enforcement power other than that of recommendation.

Tygart said that prior to the late 1990s, the Olympics were suffering from “bad rules, a lack of uniformity, and confusion” by sports fans over the legitimacy of drug-testing efforts. Then came the various doping scandals, which “forced reform to be done” through the creation of WADA and the overhaul of individual countries’ regulatory structure.

“You also had powerful entities who were in denial who wanted to point to every different problem for the reason why fans were walking away,” Tygart said.

The presentation by Tygart comes at a time when the Jockey Club is pushing for the adoption by all 38 racing states of a set of rules devised by the organization and first released at last year’s Round Table. The Jockey Club and supporters of the rules have contended that the regulations would provide for harsher treatment of serial violators of racing rules while also providing a national framework for the regulation of a suite of 25 therapeutic medications that would be allowed to be present in post-race samples at level that are considered to be pharmacologically insignificant.

But those rules have encountered resistance from horsemen’s groups because they do not allow for the raceday use of the anti-bleeding medication furosemide, which is currently legal to administer on raceday in every jurisdiction in North America. The push by the Jockey Club and many powerful owners and breeders on its board has driven a wedge between the organization and the horsemen’s groups, who contend that furosemide is effective in mitigating bleeding in the lungs and should be allowed to be used on race day.

Stuart Janney, the vice chairman of the Jockey Club, said during the Round Table that the Jockey Club remains committed to banning the use of medication on race day, but after the conference, the Jockey Club distributed a “recommended best practices” amendment to the rules that would govern the raceday administration of furosemide, which is commonly referred to by its trade name or former trade name, Salix or Lasix. Those best practices would require horses to be on racetrack grounds more than four hours before post time of the first race or be subject to a scratch. The amendment also would limit the people - either an employee of the racetrack or an employee of the racing commission - who can administer the drug, not less than four hours before post time of a horse's scheduled race.

Jockey Club officials said that they devised the amendment as an acknowledgment that a national ban on the raceday use of the drug would be time-consuming. In the meantime, Jockey Club officials said, they preferred to have the raceday use of the drug regulated on a consistent basis from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, within scientific guidelines that have been devised over the past several decades to restrict dosages and set a time limit on the administration of the drug so that its diuretic effect does not compromise the results of post-race tests.

Also at Sunday’s Round Table, the Jockey Club released the results of an analysis of racing violations over a six-year period from 2005 to 2011, an exercise that was intended to drum up support for its recommended penalty guidelines, which would subject trainers and other licensees to increasingly punitive sanctions as the number of violations piled up. The analysis determined that a small minority of the 12,801 trainers licensed during the six-year period accounted for the vast majority of violations.

The results of the analysis were displayed through a series of slides introduced by Jockey Club chairman Ogden Mills “Dinny” Phipps, unaccompanied by any narration.  The unadorned presentation concluded with the statement that “98.5 percent or approximately 12,600 trainers without a medication violation were, in essence, allowing 1.5 percent of the population to shape 100 percent of the public perception of the sport,” a sentiment that drew a smattering of appreciative nods throughout the crowd.

“Is anyone satisfied with this scenario?” Phipps said after the last slide was displayed. “Should we be satisfied with medication rules that arguably protect about 1 percent of the trainer population, the 1 percent that repeatedly demonstrates utter disregard of the rules?”

Matt Iuliano, the Jockey Club’s executive vice president, said during his own presentation at the Round Table that two organizations, the Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association and the American Quarter Horse Association, have both endorsed the Jockey Club rules and had committed to pushing for their adoption at the state level. TOBA has also been in agreement with the Jockey Club on its push to ban raceday furosemide, and the organizations’ boards share a large number of members.

The effort to get the rules adopted by states is complicated by the fact that state racing commissions are unaccustomed to looking to the Jockey Club for guidance. In addition, there are myriad numbers of ways in which racing regulations are adopted at the state level, requiring the Jockey Club and supporters of the rules to devise individual strategies for each racing state. For instance, in some states, racing commissions can adopt new regulations on their own, while in others, the regulations must be codified and approved by legislators.

The Jockey Club has recently started to directly press for the adoption of its rules in some major racing states, including New York, where the organization is based. In the past week, for example, the Jockey Club retained a lobbyist in New York to work with state legislators on a bill that would put its rules into law, but that effort is expected to face some opposition from the state’s horsemen’s group if the regulations do not allow the raceday use of furosemide.

If all the various factions and groups in racing can agree on one thing, it’s that racing is suffering from public perception problems, in part because critics have intensely fanned the flames of the sport’s shortcomings over the past several years. Janney acknowledged those problems, and he said the solution was for racing to attack its problems with the same vigor that some racing participants attack the sport’s detractors.

"I don’t think the solution is defensiveness or attacking the critics," Janney said. "We have to look at the big picture and what we have to do is hard. We have to agree on a goal of ensuring that our sport is as safe as possible and that our athletes are properly cared for. We must also reassure public observers and our fans that we compare favorably to other sports, and the international racing community."


Ben van den Brink More than 1 year ago
Just tying up the rules,and get them according the FEI rules.
Bsb Jaws More than 1 year ago
Do any of you posters know the pedigree of Ogden Mills Phipps or Stuart Janney III ? I doubt it. You're all experts that don't know who you're dealing with. These are the decendants of what were known in the *guilded age * as *Robber Barons*. Believe what you want ,but these people have always had nefarious intentions . They are an old cabal. Robin Dawson used a very descriptive word in his post although he may not now just how well it fit. The word was *incestuous*. There isn't a person on this thread other than me that knows and understands that G.W. Bush is a blood relative of 18 Presidents + another 2 First Ladies or that Barrack Obama is a blood relative of 6 former Presidents . When Obama says his *cousin Dick Chenney * in a speech everybody in the room laughs & thinks its a joke. ITS not a joke. Its a fact. There is a law that says a President & Vice President can't be from the same state. There is no law that says they can't be cousins like GWB & Dick Chenney. Does any of you posters understand what *Hegelian Dialectic* is ? Do you Robin ? I give you a little credit for a tiny bit of intelligence. You see Robin I'm not just a jock/coach . I'm an intellectual that knows about more than sport. My 160 IQ demands that of me. These people are using the *Hegelian Dialectic * to guide the lowly scum where they want them to go. If you understand that ,then you can understand that their motives are not altruistic. Now do some research so you can understand what I just said. If you come back with a denial than I'll know you are a relative without even looking it up. ;-) You have a good day.
Tiny Montgomery More than 1 year ago
Mr Jaws, I recognize your position, though I don't necessarily buy all of it. At least I know where you're coming from, which is more then I can say about the "Elitists",of which you speak. What is the predetermined solution that they are guiding us to, where are they trying to take us.
Robin Dawson More than 1 year ago
Coach...you amuse me, as usual. It is my opinion that people in power, in the good ol' USA, count on the fact that a high percentage of the population are exceedingly dumb and gullible...hence propaganda outlets, such as FOX News and politicians like Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum. Now, looking down from your 160 IQ perch you see this 'Hegelian Dialectic ' , as you call it, and rightly believe that horse racing is being similarly victimized..by people so far out of touch with reality that they actually believe what they're saying. This is commonly described as sociopathic behaviour, and, until somebody steps in and says...' Hey...hiring sycophants like Tim Smith, Alex Waldrop, Rick Baedeker, Keith Chamblin, Jim Gluckson, Charles Haywood, Nick Eaves et al won't work...we need people who know the business and will act in the interests of the sport of horse racing, not their insidious masters '...there is no reason to expect any change or improvement..
Thomas Cook More than 1 year ago
So what you are saying here..to we the people... is that unless we start to think out of the box on these matters, we are all inevitably going to follow the ideas of racing's proletariet, whether we realize it or not. We are all just sheep being led by the agenda's of the evil few?? Correct me if I'm wrong. I may just be a dumb follower.
Robin Dawson More than 1 year ago
Exactly. You could compare this to modern organized religion. And you know just how let down many people feel, when they finally work out that its at best an illusion and in many cases fraud. So we should resurrect Christpher Hitchens and put him in charge of horse racing.
mikey More than 1 year ago
I agree anything to get this sport in line is great.The small track's that deal with low level clainers will get hurt or put out of business.Horse's at these track's are at the end of their racing day's.Thet may need certin drug's to keep these horse's racing.
Robin Dawson More than 1 year ago
The most frustrating thing about this whole issue, which has now been debated for so long that its becoming rather tedious, is that there are some people, such as Stuart Janney and Ted Pope, who know what they're on about and could do something. Indeed, Janney is so right when he implies that shooting the messenger, rather than listening to the message, is most counter-productive. The trouble is, that horse racing is a most antagonistic and incestuous business/sport, full of jealousy. And, as long as those in charge have a vested interest, (however well-meaning they are - viz Dinny Phipps etc.) others are going to resent their input and attempt to block progress. As for horsemen...they are all in a very competitive business, and, unless you make the penalties severe AND enforce them, you can't blame them for using everything at their disposal to keep up with the competition...because, if they don't, most will lose owners and struggle mightily. And the lower they sink the more desperate they become. How to fix this is the $64 question...and my suggestion (like other posters) is obviously standard national rules, regulation and testing, agreed to by a panel a true experts...and then a much stricter test for trainers, because right now its too easy for some fly-by-nighter, with 5 minutes experience, to get a license and flaunt the rules. In Europe, Hong Kong and Japan its very difficult to get licensed and the privelige is not taken lightly, because failure to live up to the rules and standards results in disqualification. Indeed, being " Ruled off the Turf " is as bad as being branded a pedophile....you are cast out. And this fear should be enough to stop the 1%. Somebody just has to step up and say...enough is enough...or North American horse racing really will go down the drain.
Thomas Cook More than 1 year ago
It becomes very sad when top horseman become old news because they operate within the rules. So true what you say here. To stay on top it becomes a question of morality versus failure or loss. If hte industry as a whole would set a high standard and enforce these standards, racing may have a chance. Enforcement is a larger issue.
Thomas Cook More than 1 year ago
With all the finger pointing going on after a trainer, handicapper or owner loses, one would think this article would get more attention.
Robin Dawson More than 1 year ago
So true...the lack of interest (per responses) confirms that the subject does not register; compared, say, to an important matter...like Lady Gaga's new dog or Rick Santorum's latest vacuuous pronouncement.
Robert More than 1 year ago
trainers and owners are not the issue, state racing authorities will never give up any authority to regulate anything. Until there is a national racing authority nothing regarding medication will change.
Ray Sousa More than 1 year ago
The excuses trainers make are increasingly pathetic,to suggest that 99% of all horses in america are bleeders who can not run without race day lasix is pathetic.its obvious that this med is being used for something other than its prescribed use,most likely the fact that it is a diuretic that alows the body to quickly get rid of fluids that might contain trace samples of dopping medicadions are what makes it so valuable,it cuts back on drug withdrawl time.in other countries horses run without lasix and are fine what we created here is a loop hole lets say 20% of racehorses need the medication so then they would get the benefits of not bleeding plus the benefit of having certain other medication given much closer to race time,why because the diuretic effect would expell any traces of the given medication, so ofcourse everybody became a bleeder.many years ago a top south african trainer was expelled from the game in johannesburg for dopping horses, hes wife then took out a license and become south africas top trainer until she won the south african derby with a long shot by 14 lenghts testing was conducted and it turns out the horse was on lasix and it had been used to mask other agents. she was suspended for 2 years,the point is unless you hand out stiff penalties trainers will get around the rules and will allways be one step ahead of the testing.kick out a couple of prominent infractors and the others will realise that there is a price to be paid if you cheat.right now it a free for all joke,with sentences that are shorter than you can say snake venom or bronchodialator.
nicola c More than 1 year ago
well said and i 100% agree.
jttf More than 1 year ago
we are suppose to believe that only 1.5 % of the trainers have a med violation ? these trainers will never allow these tougher testing procedures.
kingsailor2 More than 1 year ago
". . . racing is suffering from public perception problems." If this is true at all (and increased attendance/handles at Del Mar/Saratoga show this statement to be false) it's because the Jockey Club and TOBA consistently blare this message. In other words, it's not true at all. Why should the Jockey Club and TOBA decide what is best for racing, while ignoring the results of the Jockey Club's own study on lasix? We need to take a good long look at their intentions and what is driving their actions. They are so set on making this happen that they set up "hearings" at the federal level which do not even draw on accepted scientific methods and practices and they also make up false "grassroots" efforts and websites. They really are a suspect group of people--I think it's time to look at setting up more honest "governing" bodies. If they want to do something useful on the breeding side, then start policing the weanling/yearling sales and notify consumers which young horses have screws and operations on their legs.
Thomas Cook More than 1 year ago
You are taking Saratoga and del Mar to cover the industry as a whole.. Bad sample testing. And your statements are just statements without backing them with facts. You seem biased and jaded. There is no need to police sales based upon your ideas either. soundess issues which you have alleged are covered by allowed veterinary exams prior to and post purchase. The jockey club is the governing body over all of racing. If they approve such measures then all jurisdictions must follow. They are absolutely correct about public perception being down on the sport due to the allegations of rampant drug use and abuse. Set the rules. Then enforce them.
chad mc rory More than 1 year ago
Even as I write this Grening is reporting that Saratoga is all but empty. The biz iz in trouble dude...
Thomas Cook More than 1 year ago
Interesting facts and proposals. Hopefully the top class owners and trainers get behind this until it is tweeked and done.