Racing Panel: Class 1 Rank for Designer Drugs

On July 27 the Association of Racing Commissioners International (RCI) board of directors will consider a committee recommendation to categorize three designer drugs a Class 1--the most serious in horse racing.

The organization's Drug Testing Standards and Practices Committee voted July 20 to add the following medications and drugs to the Class 1 list: methylenedioxypyrovalerone (MDVP) and related analogues commonly known as bath salts; dermorphin; and synthetic cannabinoids. As Class 1 substances they would draw the highest penalties if found in racehorses.

Delaware Racing Commission member Duncan Patterson said the substances "have no place in racing" and encouraged tougher penalties that are spelled out in model rules.

Officials at RCI said methylenedioxypyrovalerone and related analogues have recently been found in post-race tests conducted in several racing jurisdictions. The substances, marketed in North America as bath salts, are considered "psychoactive with stimulant properties," they said.

Dermorphin is a hepta-peptide that is a natural opiate more potent than morphine but less likely to produce addiction. Dermorphin is prohibited in racing, and the committee's action will result in it being itemized in the RCI Uniform Classification for Foreign Substances schedule.

Racing investigators have discovered vials of the substance, and testing laboratories have been put on notice, RCI officials said.

Synthetic cannabis is a psychoactive herbal and chemical product that mimics the effects of cannabis, or marijuana. It is best known by the brand names K2 and Spice.

Penalties for the substances provide for a minimum one year suspension, a fine of $10,000, exclusion of the horse from competition for at least three months, and the ability of the stewards to refer the matter to regulators to consider more severe penalties.

The committee also voted to make a specific notation in the classification document instructing stewards and judges that if they find a substance not specifically noted it should be treated as a Class 1 substance unless consultation with the RCI or Racing Medication and Testing Consortium advises otherwise pending formal inclusion on the list.

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