Oklahoma Medication Issues Discussed in Historic Meeting: AQHA 2/2/17

By: Oklahoma QHRA

The Oklahoma Quarter Horse Racing Association hosted a meeting on Friday at Heritage Place in Oklahoma City to provide industry stakeholders an opportunity to visit with a number of racing industry experts on topics such as drug testing methodology, hair testing, out of competition or pre-race testing, uniform model rules with breed specific chapters for the Quarter Horse industry, and other topics relating to the integrity of racing and welfare of the equine athlete.

This is the first meeting of this type in Oklahoma, as both nationally recognized leaders and industry players all sat at the same table to participate in a question-and-answer format.

Dr. Scott Stanley from Maddy Laboratory in California, Petra Hartman from Industrial Laboratories in Colorado, and Ed Martin, Executive Director of the Association of Racing Commissioners International were invited to present information for the discussion.  Also, Dr. Thomas Tobin from Kentucky and Dave Basler from Ohio attended as representatives of the National HBPA to provide insight and information based on their involvement in the racing industry.

Other participants involved in Oklahoma racing included four individual members of the Oklahoma Horse Racing Commission and two staff attorneys from the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, three representatives from the American Quarter Horse Association, a representative from the Thoroughbred Racing Association of Oklahoma, and all three Oklahoma racetracks, as well as several members of the OQHRA board of directors.

Dr. Stanley gave a brief presentation on hair testing and the extensive list of prohibited substances that can be detected using the hair testing matrix. Ms. Hartman appeared as a representative for Industrial Laboratories from Wheat Ridge, Colorado, which holds the current drug testing contract with the Oklahoma Horse Racing Commission. She shared some issues and concerns that needed to be considered when selecting laboratories, and she addressed the need to be aware of such issues as uniformity of capabilities and methods for testing by the various laboratories. She also discussed the capabilities of Industrial to provide testing services for blood, urine, and hair.

In organizing the meeting, the goal of the OQHRA was to bring in industry professionals to address concerns regarding the methodology and reliability of hair testing and to address industry concerns that prohibited drugs, including specifically Clenbuterol, are still being used to enhance performance in races and are able to avoid detection in post-race tests in blood and urine.

“The OQHRA and the AQHA continue to support out of competition testing and hair testing by the various State commissions as a way to enforce the prohibitions against the use of Clenbuterol in Quarter Horse Racehorses,” stated a release distributed by OQHRA.

Clenbuterol has been a prohibited medication in Quarter Horse racing in Oklahoma since March 1, 2015. Individual commissioners encouraged both the AQHA and OQHRA to actively pursue the submission and subsequent approval for ARCI Model Rules with regard to Breed Specific Flat Racing and Medication language for Quarter Horse Racing as an important step in encouraging the OHRC to adopt Uniform Medication Levels for Oklahoma.

During the meeting, attorneys for the Oklahoma Horse Racing Commission confirmed that the commission has the authority to use hair testing to detect prohibited medications.  They also confirmed that the commission has the authority to conduct pre-race and or post-race testing in blood, urine, and hair at Oklahoma racetracks under its current statutory and regulatory delegation of authority.

“Any trainer still using Clenbuterol in horses participating in Quarter Horse racing in Oklahoma has to be as dense as the wood on the top of this table,” said one commissioner during the meeting.

“While there is still a lot of work to be done before Oklahoma and all Quarter Horse racing jurisdictions operate under the same set of rules and medication levels, Oklahoma has already taken an important step in the right direction with it’s now two year old prohibition against any use of Clenbuterol in Quarter Horse racing,” the OQHRA release stated. “The OQHRA has every intention of continuing to work with the Oklahoma Horse Racing Commission to identify and implement methods that will discourage use of prohibited and illegal medications, and that will penalize offenders.”

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