09/25/2013 3:08PM

Virginia adopts same medication policies as Maryland


The Virginia Racing Commission on Wednesday approved a set of medication rules and penalty regulations that it had earlier pledged to adopt as part of a regional effort to put in place uniform racing rules along the eastern seaboard, according to its executive director.

The rules, which will go into effect on Jan. 1, will newly prohibit the use of so-called adjunct bleeding medications on race day in Virginia. One of three adjuncts are currently legal to administer on race day along with the anti-bleeding medication furosemide, but the new rules will now outlaw that practice as of the start of 2014, according to Bernie Hettel, the commission’s executive director.

“I really don’t think that’s going to be any big deal,” Hettel said. “There’s not a lot of good evidence that they have any efficacy anyway.”

With the Wednesday approval, Virginia joins several other states, including its neighbor Maryland, to adopt the rules, which were devised over the course of several years with the participation of most major industry organizations. The rules are also expected to be adopted later this year in most racing states in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic.

Hettel said that Virginia’s current rules are largely aligned with the uniform medication recommendations and that the state only had to modify “five or six” regulations to come into compliance, including passing a new rule restricting furosemide administrations on race day to state vets. Private vets are currently allowed to administer the drug on race day.

The Virginia commission also adopted a new penalty schedule that will result in trainers accruing points for medication violations based on the severity of the infraction, with additional penalties levied against trainers when the points exceed certain thresholds. The penalty schedule was also devised with the participation of most major racing organizations, and supporters are hoping to press states to adopt the schedule by the end of this year.