New Mexico Bill Targets Drug Testing Sample Handling

New Mexico Bill Targets Drug Testing Sample Handling

The legislation would require the New Mexico Racing Commission to establish rules for handling drug testing specimens.

Photo: Anne M. Eberhardt/The Horse

The New Mexico state Senate has passed proposed legislation that would require the New Mexico Racing Commission (NMRC) to establish rules for handling drug testing specimens according to Association of Racing Commissioners International (ARCI) regulations.

Introduced by Senator Mary Kay Papen (D), SB 489 would require that the NMRC adopt rules for the handling of pre- and post-race, out-of-competition, and necropsy samples of blood, serum, plasma, urine, or specimens taken from horses racing in New Mexico.

Under the proposed legislation, samples would be divided in two equal parts. One part would be tested by the racing commission or its designated laboratory for unauthorized drugs, chemicals, stimulants, depressants, or other performance-altering substances as defined by ARCI. The commission would send the other portion to the scientific laboratory division of the state's health department.

Also, under the proposed bill, “after a positive test result on the sample tested by the commission or its designated laboratory and upon a written request from the president, executive director, or manager of the New Mexico Horsemen's Association on forms designated by the commission, the scientific laboratory division shall transmit the corresponding second sample to the New Mexico Horsemen's Association."

On March 4, the state's Senate passed SB489 by a 39-3 margin.

Papen said the measure is intended to ensure the integrity of New Mexico horse racing.

“Under this bill all ARCI protocols will be followed,” Papen said. “We want to make sure all horses racing in New Mexico are clean.”

Meanwhile, Senator Michael Sanchez (D) was one of three to vote against the bill. In a written statement, he said he opposes SB 489 out of concern that horses could be at risk of being overdosed by drugs ARCI permits.

“It is my understanding that, under the ARCI, certain drugs are permitted because they are used for therapeutic reasons,” Sanchez statement said. “The ARCI Uniform Classification Guidelines for Foreign Substances classifies therapeutic drugs as some that are generally used for medical use and have 'less potential of affect(ing) performance.' If a horse in need of therapeutic drugs are given medication to treat symptoms of a sickness or injury and then raced, there is potential that the health of the horse could worsen. If a horse is not healthy and unable to race without the assistance of drugs, therapeutic or otherwise, they should not be racing. Putting an unhealthy horse on the track is unacceptable. “

The legislation now moves to the New Mexico House of Representatives Agriculture, Water, and Wildlife Committee for consideration.

About the Author

Pat Raia

Pat Raia is a veteran journalist who enjoys covering equine welfare, industry, and news. In her spare time, she enjoys riding her Tennessee Walking Horse, Sonny.

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