BloodHorse Staff:

Believing improper use of albuterol has gone up since clenbuterol was banned from racing in the state, the New Mexico Racing Commission is moving toward a ban of albuterol.

The NMRC Rules and Medication Committee voted Jan. 16 to make albuterol a “zero tolerance” drug in the state, in both Quarter Horse and Thoroughbred racing. The plan is to put the albuterol ban in place around May 1.

The zero-tolerance standard aims to eliminate albuterol from the racing environment.

In a Jan. 28 release the regulator said, “Since the NMRC has been clamping down on the abuse of clenbuterol, there have been strong allegations that trainers have shifted their focus to albuterol in order to try and obtain an unfair advantage. That has been the focus of concern for those participating with integrity at New Mexico race tracks.”

NMRC executive director Ismael “Izzy” Trejo said the albuterol restriction is needed to protect horsemen who are trying to play by the rules.

“Consider this an official warning to those trainers that have been using albuterol in order to win races in New Mexico,” Trejo said. “We owe it to those who play the game fair and square and to those that bet on our races to continue our mission of cleaning up the racing product in New Mexico.”

As mentioned, the new rule would apply to both Thoroughbreds and Quarter Horses. A motion to make the rule breed specific to Quarter Horses failed by a 16-3 vote.

New Mexico’s clenbuterol rule is more restrictive than recommendations in the Racing Medication and Testing Consortium’s National Uniform Medication Program’s controlled therapeutic substances list for Thoroughbreds. And, should the new albuterol prohibition be put in place, it also would be more restrictive. The NUMP recommendation allows for use of both substances in training, as both can be used as as bronchodilators. Clenbuterol carries a 14-day withdrawal guideline and albuterol is 72 hours out.

Thoroughbred racing continues to allow the use of clenbuterol, also known as ventipulmen, as the Association of Racing Commissioners International model rule matches the RMTC standards. Most rules apply to all breeds, but an ARCI model rule makes an exception for clenbuterol, outlawing its use in Quarter Horse racing.

The NMRC committee also voted to adopt version 14.0 of the ARCI Uniform Classification Guidelines and Recommended Penalties Model Rule.