Attorneys: Horse Racing Drug Prosecutions on Solid Ground: The Horse 8/17/15

By Edited Press Release

Horse racing’s anti-doping rules will continue to withstand legal challenge, according to conclusions reached at a meeting of regulatory attorneys convened by the Association of Racing Commissioners International (ARCI).

“A widely reported decision in Delaware not to pursue a prosecution in a singular case had mitigating factors that were unique,” said Mark Lamberth, ARCI chairman and a member of the Arkansas Racing Commission. “This has been thoroughly reviewed as have been the standards required for a successful prosecution and we are confident that the rules will continue to withstand any future challenge.”

Following press coverage intimating that rules based upon the recommendations of the Racing Medication and Testing Consortium (RMTC) as embodied in the ARCI Model Rules might be vulnerable to legal attack, the meeting was convened to conduct a vulnerability assessment.

“I am not aware of any successful challenge to a drug prosecution based on science,” said Ed Martin, ARCI president, noting that the attorneys identified no vulnerability in current rules. “People will try and spend a lot money doing so, but in the end, the courts have upheld racing commission actions.”

(Note: A recent court decision in Kentucky overturning an action by the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission was based on mitigating circumstance relating to the justification of the penalty stemming from Kentucky’s classification definition of the medication levamisole, not on the science or capacity of the laboratory behind its detection.)

Lamberth has asked the RMTC to make as much information as possible available to help the public and industry understand that regulatory policies are based on a solid review and assessment of the science, literature and opinions of recognized experts.

Earlier this year, the ARCI convened its own scientific advisory group to assess issues independently from the RMTC. “It’s important for people to have confidence in the process and regulators have a responsibility to consider all views and assessments,” Lamberth said.

“Scientific recommendations are based on what it is that we know today,” he concluded. “As additional research work is done and completed, we always reserve the right to change policy based on new information. Absent that, those who must defend racing commission actions in court have an extremely high degree of confidence in the integrity of the current system.”