By: Frank Angst

In wrapping up work from a busy Association of Racing Commissioners International conference last month in New Orleans, the organization formally posted revisions to its regulatory standards April 13 including a change that acknowledges two types of methamphetamine positives.

The change will see a footnote added to the methamphetamine penalty recommendation noting that if it can be proven that only levo-methamphetamine is present in a positive sample that Penalty B (the second-highest penalty) is recommended.

The footnote was added after the RCI drug testing and standards committee heard a presentation from Racing Medication and Testing Consortium executive director Dionne Benson explaining that currently all positives for “methamphetamine” call for the highest level of sanctions (Penalty A) but that a look at the molecular structure of a positive currently listed as methamphetamine can differentiate between the illicit drug and a drug associated with over-the-counter inhalers used to treat colds and congestion.

Benson said when only levo-methamphetamine shows up in a test, it indicates that one of these FDA-approved inhalers has been used but when dextro-methamphetamine, or a mix of levo- and dextro-methamphetamine shows up in a test, it indicates the illicit drug.

The substance in the over-the-counter inhalers also isn’t approved for racing and will continue to have a Penalty B classification recommended by the footnote, but regulators thought it important to differentiate the two when possible. The illicit drug will continue to carry the highest penalty classification.

Also in Wednesday’s posting that followed out of the conference, the ARCI expanded its controlled therapeutic medication schedule to include and set regulatory thresholds for the following four medications: cimetidine, ranitidine, cetirizine, and guaifenesin.

Additionally, regulatory thresholds for xylazine and omeprazole were modified based on new information and research not available when the schedule was initially adopted. The xylazine and the omeprazole thresholds were adjusted based upon studies conducted at the University of California at Davis, funded by the Kentucky Equine Drug Research Council and coordinated through the Racing Medication and Testing Consortium.

Besides adding the note on methamphetamine, the ARCI also amended the Uniform Classification Guidelines of (Prohibited) Foreign Substances, as follows:
• Tramadol: Penalty recommendation changed from Penalty A to Penalty B.
• Cetirizine: Penalty recommendation changed from Penalty B to Penalty C after inclusion into ARCI Controlled Therapeutic Medication Schedule.
• Morphine: Footnote language added recommending Penalty A if intentional administration can be proven by regulators.
• Cocaine : Footnote language added recommending Penalty A if intentional administration can be proven by regulators.

Morphine and cocaine currently carry Penalty B classifications because it’s been determined that when these substances show up in tests, it typically is environmental contamination. The rule changes now allow regulators who determine that either of these drugs intentionally was given to a horse to move the positive into the Penalty A level.

Other revisions to its racing regulatory standards out of last month’s conference also were formally posted April 13. Among them, sections pertaining to medical labeling were strengthened to ensure that improper medications are not being used in racing and to strengthen racing commission jurisdiction in this area.

ARCI chair Judy Wagner praised several racing industry organizations that provided invaluable input to assist the development of the final medical labeling version that was adopted. She noted specific contributions by the RMTC, the National HBPA, the American Association of Equine Practitioners, and the North American Association of Racetrack Veterinarians.

ARCI Model Rules serve as a guide to jurisdictions in the making of racing regulatory policy. In some instances, portions of the ARCI Model Rules have the force of law by virtue of statutes or rules incorporating them “by reference.” This means that when the ARCI adopts a rule, it automatically becomes the applicable policy in jurisdictions that have done that.

The amended Model Rules of Racing are the following:

• ARCI-004-105 Calculation Of Payouts And Distribution Of Pools
• ARCI-008-030 Jockey Suspensions and Designated Races
• ARCI-011-010 Treatment Restrictions
• ARCI-011-020 Medical Labeling
• ARCI-011-025 Trainer Responsibility
• ARCI-025-010 Treatment Restrictions
• ARCI-025-020 Medical Labeling
• ARCI-025-025 Trainer Responsibility
All ARCI regulatory standards are published on the association’s website. Model Rules can also be accessed through the University of Arizona’s Race Track Industry Program.