Racehorse Drug Rules, Out-of-Competition Testing Discussed

Brian Kavanagh, chairman of the European Pattern Committee, called for international uniform medication rules during an address at the Asian Racing Conference, currently taking place in Hong Kong. Officials also agreed to newly drafted 'best practice principles' of out-of-competition drug testing.

Kavanagh, said, "I believe that the IFHA (International Federation of Horseracing Authorities) must move to a single worldwide set of rules relating to medication and we simply must find a way of ensuring that these rules can be enforced in all member countries. I realize that this is not straightforward in some countries, but in order to have value and integrity for our global rankings and our black-type system in sales catalogues, it is simply where we must go."

A live electronic poll of delegates attending the session revealed that 82% were in favor of standard medication rules being linked to the pattern system. (Pattern races are also known as "group" or "graded" races in some jurisdictions and represent the highest level of Thoroughbred racing world wide. Examples of pattern races include the Kentucky Derby, Breeders' Cup races, the Epsom Derby, and the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe. Read more about the pattern race discussion at BloodHorse.com.)

Also at the Asian Racing Conference, attendees of the IFHA's executive council unanimously agreed to newly drafted 'best practice principles' of out-of-competition drug testing.

The central basis detailed in the new Article 6E of the International Agreement on Breeding, Racing, and Wagering, is that as a matter of ensuring fair competition, transparency, welfare, and sound breeding, racing authorities should be able to carry out testing for prohibited substances at any time in the career of any horse, from the commencement of training to final retirement from racing, at their discretion.

Louis Romanet, IFHA chairman, presented that endorsement of the Federation's executive council at an Asian Racing Conference session titled "Fair Competition and Drug Control."

"A fundamental component of any racing authorities' doping control is the ability to test for prohibited substances from the beginning of a racehorse's training to the conclusion of its racing career," Romanet said. "Without a strong out-of-competition testing program, the interests of racing, breeding, and wagering participants and stakeholders are seriously compromised. While some racing authorities may face difficulty in accomplishing out-of-competition testing due to regulatory constraints or jurisdictional practices, it is critical that each authority examine its current drug control regulations and protocols to ensure out-of-competition testing is in place or begin steps for implementation."

The new Article 6E also calls for full traceability of horses that have been selected for out-of-competition testing. The responsible party—owner or trainer—must readily be able to inform the domestic racing authority of the exact location of a racehorse, the subject of out-of-competition testing. Failure to do so could result in the subject racehorse to not be permitted to be entered in any pending races and ineligibility to enter any race for a period of six months.

Article 6E, as follows below, will now be circulated among IFHA members for ratification.

The IFHA executive council consists of 13 members drawn from three regions—Europe, the Americas, and Asia. Jim Gagliano, president and chief operating officer of The Jockey Club, is the council's vice chairman representing the Americas. Kavanagh, who also serves as chief executive of Horse Racing Ireland, is vice chairman representing Europe. Winfried Engelbrecht-Bresges, CEO of the Hong Kong Jockey Club, is vice chairman representing Asia.


To ensure fair competition, transparency, welfare, and sound breeding, racing authorities will at their discretion carry out testing for prohibited substances at any time in the career of any horse, from the commencement of training to final retirement from racing.

To this effect:

1. Trainers must notify their domestic racing jurisdiction the names of horses in training with them and specify where relevant the exact location of such horses.

2. When a racehorse is out of training at any time in its career from the commencement of training to final retirement from racing, the owner(s) must readily be able to inform the domestic racing authority of the exact location of the horse.

3f full traceability of any racehorse, whether in training or out of training, cannot be established at any time in its racing career, such horse will only be permitted to be entered in a race after a period of six (6) months in training with a duly licensed trainer.

4. The following prohibited substances, including other substances with a similar chemical structure or similar biological effect(s), are not to be administered to racehorses at any time in their career:

  • 4.1 Non-approved substances: Any substance not addressed by any of the subsequent classes of substances, and which has no current approval by any government regulatory authority for veterinary use, or any substance not universally recognized by veterinary regulatory authorities as valid veterinary therapeutic treatment.
  • 4.2 Anabolic agents: (a) Anabolic androgenic steroids; (b) other anabolic agents, including but not limited to selective androgen receptor modulators (SARMs); and (c) beta-2 agonists, unless the substance is prescribed by a veterinarian as a bronchodilator at the appropriate dose.
  • 4.3 Peptide hormones, growth factors, and related substances: (a) Erythropoiesis-stimulating agents, including but not limited to erythropoietin (EPO), epoetin alfa, epoetin beta, darbepoetin alfa, and methoxy polyethylene glycol-epoetin beta, peginesatide, hypoxia inducible factor (HIF)-1 stabilisers; (b) growth hormones and growth hormone releasing factors, insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1), and other growth factors, and (c) synthetic proteins and peptides and synthetic analogues of endogenous proteins and peptides not registered for medical or veterinary use.
  • 4.4 Hormones and metabolic modulators:  (a) Aromatase inhibitors; (b) selective estrogen receptor modulators (SERMS) and other anti-estrogenic substances; (c) agents modifying myostatin function, including but not limited to myostatin inhibitors; (d) insulins; (e) peroxisome proliferator activated receptor δ (PPARδ) agonists, including but not limited to GW 1516; and (f) AMPK activators, including but not limited to AICAR (5-aminoimidazole-4-carboxamide-1-β-D-ribofuranoside).

5. Therapeutic use of substances specified in point 4 above may only be exceptionally applied in the following circumstances:

  • When the racing authority has decided to offer the facility for such exceptional use for therapeutic purposes and where no other reasonable therapeutic alternative exists.
  • The specified prohibited substance being exceptionally used therapeutically must be prescribed by a veterinarian for the sole purpose of treating an existing illness or injury, and the details of the diagnosis, substance, and administration protocol must be recorded and supplied by the trainer to the racing authority. If the horse is not under the direct control of a trainer at any time in its career from the commencement of training to final retirement from racing, the owner is responsible for this notification to the racing authority. This system must be supervised by the racing authority's veterinarian(s).
  • A horse shall be ineligible to race until a minimum of six (6) months has elapsed after the administration of any of the substances specified in point four (4) above, and the Racing Authority must test to ensure that a horse treated therapeutically with any of these substances is free from the presence of such substances before racing.
  • A racing authority must record, within the details it holds of the horse in question, information which it has received on the administration to that horse of such substances under exceptional use for therapeutic purposes. This information must be included when providing details on the horse to a horse racing authority or stud book authority in any country to which the horse travels (including within racing clearance notifications), including in the case of permanent export of the horse.
  • The number of exceptional uses for therapeutic purposes and the details of the substances involved shall be notified to and reviewed by the international federation annually.

Originally published on BloodHorse.com.

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The Blood-Horse is the leading weekly publication devoted to international Thoroughbred racing and breeding. Since 1916, the staff of The Blood-Horse has served the Thoroughbred community with the highest standards of journalistic excellence to provide comprehensive and timely editorial coverage and analysis.

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