RCI Makes Major Medication Rule Changes

RCI looks at major model medication rule revisions.

Press Release
December 17, 2012

RCI

The Board of Directors of Racing Commissions International (RCI) has voted to move forward with a major revision of the association’s model medication rules for horse racing.

The RCI Board gave preliminary approval to a list of seventeen “Controlled Therapeutic Medications” with set testing thresholds at which point a violation of the rules would be found due to the ability of the substance to affect performance. Instead of recommending withdrawal times, RCI also set firm treatment restrictions prohibiting administration of each medication within a specified time frame.

“These substances are appropriately used in routine equine care to safeguard the health of our animals. By setting uniform thresholds and restricted administration times, veterinarians and horsemen will have clear direction as to how to comply with the rules,” said Duncan Patterson, Chairman of the Drug Testing Standards and Practices Committee.

“At the same time, all other substances would be considered prohibited and violations treated more harshly,” Patterson said.

The new structure of the RCI rules is consistent with a concept previously discussed within RCI and the Racing Medication and Testing Consortium (RMTC) that has been embodied in the proposed Reformed Racing Medication Rules being advocated by the US Jockey Club.

RCI Chairman John Sabini noted that “changes have been made to some of the proposals, but we believe the path we are on is the right one and will be an important reform that horsemen and fans have been crying out for.”

RCI is also expected to approve an ancillary list of “Controlled Special Instance Therapeutic Medications” appropriate for emergency treatment, infectious disease or acute injury. Their use would require formal notification to the commission disclosing the patient, medication, dose, and reason for its use. Even with such disclosure they would not be permitted to be in a racehorse at levels that could affect performance. Firm thresholds and administration time restrictions would also apply to these medications.

The list of Controlled Therapeutic Medications and administration restrictions given preliminary approval by the RCI Board is:

Controlled Therapeutic Medication    No Pre-race treatment within:
Betamethasone                                      7 Days
Clenbuterol                                          14 Days
Dantrolene                                           48 Hours
Dexamethasone                                    72 Hours
Diclofenac                                            48 Hours
DMSO                                                  48 Hours
Firocoxib                                              14 Days
Flunixin                                                 24 Hours
Furosemide                                            4 Hours
Glycopyrrolate                                      48 Hours
Ketoprofen                                           24 Hours
Methocarbamol                                   48 Hours
Methylprednisolone                               7 Days
Omeprazole                                        24 Hours
Phenylbutazone                                  24 Hours
Prednisolone                                (Pending RMTC Recommendation)
Triamcinolone acetonide                    7 Days

RCI President Ed Martin noted that the Model Rules will not be formally amended until the following issues are resolved: the “special instance” list of medications and thresholds and administration restrictions as well as revisions to the RCI penalty guidelines to provide harsher punishment for those who would engage in horse doping.

“The RMTC will be making additional recommendations to us and we are actively engaged on developing a point system where repeated violations, regardless of jurisdiction, would trigger progressive penalties in all,” Martin said.

“When complete, I anticipate that we will be asking jurisdictions to adopt the Model Rules by reference. There is precedent for this and it would be an effective way to achieve the uniformity we all have been advocating for,” he said.

When adopted formally, the final Model Rules schedule for Controlled Therapeutic Medications will be published complete with threshold levels and dosing specifications.

Thresholds and restrictive administration times are based upon the recommendations of the RMTC Scientific Advisory process as well as an RCI Task Force on Medication Science. Leading experts in racing chemistry and veterinary pharmacology were involved in the process and review of available research and literature leading to creation of this schedule.

“There may be instances where new research developments require that an issue be revisited and we will have a process by which this is done. In the meantime, commissions currently test for these medications and have deployed different approaches to ensuring that horses in a race do not have their performance affected by any foreign substance or medication,” Martin said.

RCI has worked closely with the Jockey Club, TOBA, The National HBPA, USTA, AQHA, TRA, THA and the AAEP in reviewing it model medication rules.

“We are appreciative of the many groups, individuals, and regulatory personnel who have worked on this project. While little in life garners unanimous agreement, there is significant support for what we are doing and we are confident, that when we are done we will have taken the most aggressive drug testing program in professional sports and made it even better.”