January 31, 2008
The Racing Medication and Testing Consortium (RMTC) today endorsed a December 31, 2008, deadline for nationwide adoption of model rules regulating the use of anabolic steroids in racehorses. RMTC Chairman Robert Lewis stated, “Our entire board firmly believes that the regulation of anabolic steroids in racehorses is essential to the integrity of horse racing and the welfare of the horse. We are confident that the majority in racing agree with this position, and this is evidenced by the fact that, while there have been public statements questioning how this should best be achieved, there have been no calls for abandoning the goal of regulation of anabolic steroids.”
The RMTC and Racing Commissioners International (RCI) model rule calls for the regulation of four androgenic anabolic steroids and bans the use of any other anabolic steroids in racehorses. These four anabolic steroids, stanozolol (Winstrol®), boldenone (Equipoise®), nandrolone and testosterone, can be regulated through testing in blood and urine. Nandrolone and boldenone are naturally occurring in intact males, and testosterone is naturally occurring in all horses. All four are permitted for use in the horse by the FDA. The current model rule provides screening levels in urine that have been used to successfully regulate these anabolic steroids internationally since 1976, and are based on published research from England, France, Japan and Australia.
According to Kent Stirling, RMTC board member and chairman of the National Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association, “HBPA welcomes the regulation of anabolic steroids based on scientifically established thresholds and published withdrawal time guidelines, and a targeted national implementation date. We have never tried to stall these recommendations and are very pleased with the actions taken by the RMTC.”
In order to provide blood plasma threshold levels for these anabolic steroids and to reduce the anticipated costs and better facilitate the testing, RMTC is funding anabolic steroid research in both plasma and urine at the University of Florida Pharmacokinetics Laboratory. When completed by this August, the research will give horsemen, veterinarians and regulators definitive threshold levels and withdrawal times for anabolic steroids in both plasma and urine.
RMTC co-vice chairman and president of the Thoroughbred Racing Associations, Chris Scherf, affirmed: “We realized that there are testing and logistical issues individual state racing commissions must work through before adopting this anabolic steroid model rule and implementing the penalty phase, but RMTC believes every racing jurisdiction should be strictly enforcing the regulation of anabolic steroids by the end of 2008.”
To achieve a national approach, the RMTC encourages states to be uniform in adopting the model rule, and not to adopt stricter standards and establish more severe penalties than what the RMTC recommends. While RMTC must wait for the completion of the Florida research study before definitive withdrawal times can be recommended, the range is anticipated to fall between 30 and 45 days.
Concerning penalties, the RMTC and RCI recommend a $500 fine and disqualification of the horse for the first violation; a $1,000 fine, disqualification and a 15-day trainer suspension for the second violation in a 365-day period; and a $2,500 fine, disqualification and 30-day trainer suspension for the third violation in a 365-day period. These recommended penalties could be reduced or increased if warranted by extenuating circumstances. In addition, the RMTC strongly encourages state racing commissions to give the horsemen sufficient forewarning before starting the penalty phase of the anabolic steroids model rule after final adoption.
Alan Foreman, CEO of the Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association and RMTC’s co-vice chairman, stated, “This is a very emotional issue on all sides. It needs to be handled carefully, responsibly and uniformly. The next 11 months will give the entire industry sufficient time to address the testing and regulatory issues that need to be resolved and allow for the necessary adjustments. A national regulation and control of steroid use in racehorses, effective January 1, 2009, would be a monumental achievement for the racing industry and we should work in cooperation to realize this goal.”
RMTC realizes that successfully achieving proper and effective uniform regulation of anabolic steroids in racehorses will be an ongoing process and will require patience and inevitable modifications along the way. However, Alex Waldrop, president of the National Thoroughbred Racing Association and an RMTC board member, added, “Given the scrutiny of anabolic steroids by the media and Congress, and the consequential negative perception of these drugs by the public, the horse racing industry must take initiative on its own volition to properly and uniformly regulate the use of anabolic steroids in racehorses this year.”
The RMTC consists of 23 racing industry stakeholders and organizations that represent Thoroughbred, Standardbred and American Quarter Horse racing. The organization works to develop, promote and coordinate, at the national level, policies, research, and educational programs that seek to ensure the fairness and integrity of racing, the health and welfare of racehorses and participants, and protect the interests of the betting public.
For additional information, visit the RMTC website at www.rmtc.kinsta.com or contact Dan Fick, CEO, RMTC, (859) 224-2708.