By: Frank Angst
Racing Medication and Testing Consortium executive director Dionne Benson said as regulators look at new, enhanced recommendations on out-of-competition testing, they’re going to find policies that will work for the industry.
Participating on an equine welfare and veterinary panel March 23 at the RCI conference in New Orleans, Benson is encouraged that the RCI has begun the process of considering a model rule that would expand out-of-competition testing.
In February RMTC board members voted unanimously to recommend to RCI an expanded and more comprehensive out-of-competition testing rule for horse racing.
“I’m pleased to report that it passed our board unanimously,” Benson said, noting that she sees movement in this area to be comparable to racing’s updated policies in recent years on anabolic steroids and improved pre-race exams. “This is the next big thing we try to get accomplished.”
RCI president Ed Martin said the proposed model rule currently is open for comment and will be discussed at the conference. Martin said the proposed model rule would soon be added to the RCI website, where members could comment.
Benson said the rule will focus on looking for substances that should never be in a horse. The recommended model rule addresses sampling procedures and defines what substances are prohibited.
The prohibited substance list is modeled on the World Anti-Doping Agency prohibited substances list, while taking into account substances unique to horses’ health under specified conditions.
Benson noted that those exceptions include clenbuterol, which can be used as a therapeutic for respiratory problems; and steroids, which also have therapeutic uses. But if those medications are used in a horse, they have to be reported.
“If your horse tests for clenbuterol and you reported it, it’s not a problem,” Benson said.
Benson added that anabolic steroids can be used but that use has to be reported to the regulatory authority by the vet or trainer. The horse then goes on the vet’s list for six months.
“We’re trying to restrict their use to the rare instances where they’re appropriate,” Benson said.
Lynn Hovda, chairwoman of the RCI Regulatory Veterinarians Committee, said she thinks one of the reasons the recommendations received unanimous support from the RMTC board was because of the thorough research of Rick Arthur.
Benson said most states are not doing much in the area of out-of competition testing, noting that Indiana and New Mexico recently have made some strides in this area. She said if the model rule is adopted by RCI and put in place by racing states, the sport could become a leader in out-of-competition testing.
“The proposed model rule including the Prohibited Substance List will provide horse racing an out-of-competition program that is second to none in professional sports,” Benson said in February. “By enacting this rule, we go beyond protecting against just blood doping agents to proactively protecting the health and welfare of the race horse everyday; not just on race day.”
The full, proposed model rule follows as provided by the RMTC follows:
Out of Competition Testing
1. Prohibited Substances and Practices—the following shall be deemed a violation of this section:
a. The presence of any substance prohibited pursuant to the then current Prohibited
Substance List at the time of sampling;
b. The possession or use of:
i. erythropoietin, darbopoetin, hemoglobin‐based oxygen carriers;
ii. naturally produced venoms, synthetic analogues of venoms, derivatives of venoms,
synthetic analogues of derivatives of venoms; and
iii. growth hormones, or beta‐2 agonists that are not subject to regulatory thresholds
on the grounds of a licensed facility under the regulatory authority’s jurisdiction; and
c. The possession at any time of whole blood or packed red blood cells on the grounds of a
licensed facility under the regulatory authority’s jurisdiction by anyone other than a licensed
veterinarian or a technician under the direct supervision of the veterinarian rendering
emergency treatment to a horse on the licensed facility grounds. The attending veterinarian
shall notify the commission veterinarian of the intent to administer whole blood or packed
red blood cells prior to his or her collection or possession of the whole blood or packed red
2. Horses Eligible for Out‐of‐Competition Testing: Any horse eligible to race in the jurisdiction shall be
subject to testing without advance notice. A horse is presumed eligible to race in the jurisdiction if:
a. It is under care, custody, or control of a licensed trainer;
b. It is owned by a licensed owner;
c. It is nominated to race at a licensed premises;
d. It has raced at a licensed premises within the jurisdiction within the previous 12 months;
e. It is stabled on a licensed premises or training facility; or
f. It is nominated to the state thoroughbred development, breeder’s award fund, or
Standardbred state sires stakes.
Horses eligible for testing pursuant to the above qualifications may be selected by the stewards, the
Executive Director, the Equine Medical Director/State Veterinarian, a designee of any of the foregoing,
or as otherwise authorized by regulation within the jurisdiction.
3. Sampling Location and Procedures:
Upon request of a representative of the racing jurisdiction trainers, owners, or their specified designee
shall provide the location of their horses eligible for Out‐of‐Competition testing.
The trainer, owner, or specified designee shall make the horse available for Out‐of‐Competition testing
a. Licensed Facilities
i. Trainers, owners, or their specified designees must make the horse available as soon
as practical upon request of a regulatory authority representative if the horse is
located at a licensed facility.
b. Off‐Track Stabling Facilities or Other Locations
i. If the horse is not located at a licensed facility:
1. the trainer, owner, or their specified designees shall make the horse
available as soon as practical upon arrival of regulatory authority
representatives at the off‐track stabling facility or other location at which
the horse is located; or
2. The trainer, owner, or their specified designees shall bring the horse to a
licensed facility within 24 hours of receiving notification of out of
competition sampling, or
3. The trainer, owner, or their specified designees may bring the horse to
another location that is acceptable to the commission for such sampling to
ii. If collecting at a site other than a licensed racetrack or training facility—sampling
can only occur during standard business hours but not earlier than 6 a.m. nor later
than 6 p.m. Under this subsection, the veterinarian collecting the samples or
his/her designee must notify the owner/trainer/individual exercising care and
control of horse a minimum of 1 hour prior to arrival.
4. Persons to Collect Samples
a. Horses Located in the Requesting Jurisdiction
i. Samples shall be collected under the direction of the official veterinarian, the Equine
Medical Director, a person designated by the official veterinarian, or a person
designated by the racing authority. Any individual directing the collection of
samples shall be licensed by the Racing Commission.
b. Horses Located Outside of the Requesting Jurisdiction
i. If the horse is located outside the jurisdiction, the racing authority may request that
the sampling be completed by a veterinarian who is:
1. Licensed to practice by the veterinary medical board in the state in which
the sampling is to occur; and
2. Authorized by the requesting racing authority to perform sampling.
ii. Such authorization shall be provided by the executive director, equine medical
director/state veterinarian, stewards, or their respective designees.
5. Samples and Sample Handling
a. Samples to be collected: blood, urine, hair, or other biological official test samples may be
b. The trainer, owner, or their designee shall witness the sample collection including sealing
sample collection containers. The chain of custody for the sample (including a split sample
where appropriate) must be maintained and available for inspection by the trainer, owner,
or their designee. The chain of custody record will be available for inspection where a
complaint or regulatory action occurs as a result of the out of competition test.
a. Willful failure to make a horse available for sampling or other willfully deceptive acts or
interference in the sampling process shall carry a minimum penalty equivalent to a Class A
penalty for the first violation. License revocation shall occur for second offense. A horse
that is not produced for out of competition testing shall be placed on the Veterinarian’s List
for a minimum of 6 months.
b. Penalties for a finding of a prohibited drug or substance:
i. The penalty for a finding for a drug or substance prohibited at all times on the
Prohibited List in an Out‐of‐Competition Testing sample shall apply in the same
manner as to a scheduled race.
ii. Penalties for a finding of a prohibited drug or substance are subject to inclusion in
the Multiple Medication Violation Penalty Point System.
c. Persons eligible to receive penalties:
i. The trainer of record of a licensed horse;
ii. The owner of record of a licensed horse if the horse is not under the care, custody,
or control of a licensed trainer; and
iii. If a horse had not been in the care, custody, and control of a licensed trainer for the
seven days prior to Out‐of‐Competition testing the owner and trainer shall be