April 15, 2015

Contact: Hallie Roach Lewis (859) 224-2848


The executive committee of the Racing Medication and Testing Consortium (RMTC) has approved a uniform testing threshold of 110 parts per billion (ppb) in blood for the naturally occurring amino acid gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA).

The threshold, which was developed by the RMTC’s Scientific Advisory Committee (SAC), will be submitted today to the Association of Racing Commissioners International (RCI) for consideration as a model rule at RCI’s meeting next week in Tampa Bay, Fla. The SAC is a standing committee of the RMTC, comprised of leading chemists, pharmacologists, lab directors, regulatory veterinarians and racetrack veterinarians from across the U.S. horse racing industry.

The RMTC has already submitted a recommended testing threshold for cobalt, another naturally occurring substance in horses.

“This proposal is designed to protect the health and welfare of the race horse,” explained Dr. Scott Hay, RMTC SAC co-chair. “It is always challenging to determine thresholds on substances that are both endogenous and can be used inappropriately in an attempt to influence the outcome of a race. The RMTC SAC spent a significant amount of time to make sure that illegal race day administrations of GABA would be controlled without risking inadvertent positive tests of a substance that is naturally present in a horses system.”

Believed to have a calming effect on racehorses for up to three to four hours, GABA has been inappropriately administered on race-day as a performance enhancer through a supplement called Carolina Gold. Concerns about adverse reactions of this substance in horses led to its ban by the United States Equestrian Federation (USEF).

“The USEF has been aggressively dealing with the illicit administration of GABA for several years, and there have been numerous reports of its use in racing,” said RMTC Vice Chairman Alan Foreman. “Notwithstanding its calming effects pre-race, the improper use of GABA is also a threat to the welfare of the horse if administered improperly. Like cobalt, GABA regulation has posed challenges for the scientific community. The RMTC recommendation is an important and necessary step and the product of outstanding work.”

RMTC Chair Alex Waldrop added, “I applaud the SAC for their work on the GABA issue. The expert members of this committee play an imperative role in providing the science behind all of our recommendations to the industry – ensuring fair and safe uniform regulations.”

The RMTC consists of 23 racing industry stakeholders and organizations that represent Thoroughbred, Standardbred, American Quarter Horse and Arabian racing. The organization works to develop and promote uniform rules, policies and testing standards at the national level; coordinate research and educational programs that seek to ensure the integrity of racing and the health and welfare of racehorses and participants; and protect the interests of the racing public.

For additional information, visit the RMTC website at or contact Hallie Lewis, RMTC communications and development consultant, at (859) 224-2848.