By Tom LaMarra

The West Virginia Racing Commission voted July 28 to hire a new equine drug-testing laboratory when the contract with its current lab ends at the end of August.

West Virginia is one of four states in the Mid-Atlantic region that employs Truesdail Laboratories of California; the others are Delaware, Maryland, and New Jersey. The WVRC hired Truesdail last August after it ended its contract with Dalare Associates of Pennsylvania.

Commissioners approved a motion to pursue a memorandum of understanding with Industrial Laboratories of Colorado. They also approved a motion authorizing staff to craft a quality assurance program for equine drug testing to ensure samples taken from horses at tracks are being properly tested.

Officials said the issue came to a head after the Indiana Horse Racing Commission’s quality assurance lab called seven positives—including one for a Class 1 substance—in samples that had been cleared by Truesdail. The IHRC subsequently hired Industrial Laboratories as its primary lab.

WVRC senior deputy attorney general Kelli Talbott mentioned reports that Truesdail had made changes in the wake of the Indiana situation, but commissioners indicated they had concerns over integrity in equine drug testing.

“I heard it discussed at a recent (Association of Racing Commissioners International) board meeting, and I didn’t get the impression (any other jurisdiction) is ready to jump ship right now,” WVRC member Bill Phillips said. “But I think we all want to get over this concern about credibility.”

Talbott said fees charged by Industrial Laboratories would be “slightly higher,” but the lab would accept the shipping of samples twice a week instead of once a week.

“The test results would be turned around faster, and we would also be able to release purses faster,” Talbott said.

West Virginia, under the National Uniform Medication Program, is required to employ a lab accredited by the Racing Medication and Testing Consortium. Officials said Industrial Laboratories and Truesdail Laboratories are two of five such labs. The RMTC is in the process of its own review of Truesdail.