Full Implementation of Drug Testing Delayed

The Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association has delayed implementation of its drug-testing protocol for graded stakes in the United States because not all jurisdictions were prepared to implement it, the American Graded Stakes Committee said July 14.

The enforcement date for the rules was July 1. The committee, in a release, said it conveyed the change to racing commissions, racetracks, and horsemen's groups.

The committee said it would have been unfair to enforce the implementation date on one state and not another. It did say Iowa, New Jersey, and Virginia voluntarily implemented the protocol on graded stakes.

Andy Schweigardt, director of industry relations and development for TOBA, said "scientific, procedural, and regulatory issues" slowed the process. The July 1 deadline proved "OK for some jurisdictions but not others," he said.

The committee originally hoped to have the drug-testing program in place by Jan. 1, but it was stalled by logistical problems. An earlier survey of 17 jurisdictions produced responses from nine, six of which said state law allows for the upgraded tests but current drug-testing contracts don't allow for them. The protocol lists 140 substances to be tested. TOBA has said horse owners should pay for the tests in graded stakes via purse deductions.

"We continue to work with state racing commissions and their labs to address any scientific and regulatory concerns," graded stakes committee chairman Steven Duncker said in a release. "We want to make sure we have this right, and that it is correctly implemented."

Duncker said the committee would study the results of tests from Iowa, New Jersey, and Virginia as it moves forward with its plan. The drug-testing protocol mandates that jurisdictions enhance the testing of post-race samples in order to retain the grades assigned to stakes.

The American Graded Stakes Committee will meet Aug. 12, with a TOBA general membership meeting slated for Aug. 13. Both meetings will be held in Saratoga Springs, N.Y.


About the Author

Tom LaMarra

Tom LaMarra, a native of New Jersey and graduate of Rutgers University, has been news editor at The Blood-Horse since 1998. After graduation he worked at newspapers in New Jersey and Pennsylvania as an editor and reporter with a focus on municipal government and politics. He also worked at Daily Racing Form and Thoroughbred Times before joining The Blood-Horse. LaMarra, who has lived in Lexington since 1994, has won various writing awards and was recognized with the Old Hilltop Award for outstanding coverage of the horse racing industry. He likes to spend some of his spare time handicapping races.

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