RMTC Hosts Horse Hair Testing Workshop at UC Davis

The Racing Medication and Testing Consortium (RMTC) organized an equine racing chemist workshop Feb. 8-9 at the University of California, Davis (UC Davis) School of Veterinary Medicine to foster uniformity in testing of hair samples.

The workshop, hosted by UC Davis’ Maddy Lab, was open to any RMTC-accredited laboratory that wanted to obtain the necessary knowledge and hands-on experience needed to conduct hair testing for the detection of prohibited substances. Eight analysts representing the Ohio Department of Agriculture, Truesdail, Industrial, Texas A&M Veterinary Medical Diagnostic (TVMDL), and Pennsylvania Equine Toxicology and Research laboratories attended.

As part of the course, participants learned the Maddy Lab’s Standard Operating Procedures, followed the technical process and acquired the skill necessary to transfer the method back to their own laboratories.

“The workshop is timely as the racing industry is always searching for methods with a long window of detection,” said Scott Stanley, PhD, director of the Maddy Lab. “Drugs are locked in the hair fiber and remain there until the hair is lost or cut. As a result, hair analysis offers long-term detection of many historic drugs of abuse.”

Participants gained practical knowledge about the detection, identification, and analysis of anabolic steroids and other substances using equine hair samples. This initiative is designed to enable multiple horse racing testing laboratories across the country to test for illicit drugs and medications using this methodology.

“Collaboration between laboratories is important for the industry to remain current,” said Al Kin, lead racing chemist at TVMDL. “Regardless of contract competition, this workshop is an example of the many instances of information-sharing that promotes our common goal of integrity in horse racing. Hair testing is a relatively simple, noninvasive technique that will allow the detection of many long-term medication administrations.”

The RMTC funded the workshop with financial support from the American Quarter Horse Association and Keeneland Association. The RMTC has also contacted other sales companies to help defray some of the cost of this important workshop.

“I would like to thank our host, the instructors, and especially our two generous sponsor organizations for helping us put on this very successful program,” said RMTC Executive Director Dionne Benson, DVM. “I would also like to thank the participants for giving up their valuable time to attend, so that as an industry, we can move forward with this science together. Both the racing and sales sectors will benefit from having more laboratories capable of performing this work.”

The RMTC consists of 23 racing industry stakeholders and organizations that represent Thoroughbred, Standardbred, American Quarter Horse, and Arabian racing. The organization works to develop and promote uniform rules, policies, and testing standards at the national level; coordinate research and educational programs that seek to ensure the integrity of racing and the health and welfare of racehorses and participants; and protect the interests of the racing public.

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