RMTC Approves Illicit Substance Research Funding

RMTC Approves Illicit Substance Research Funding

Photo: Anne M. Eberhardt/The Horse

At its Aug. 21 meeting at Del Mar Turf Club, in Del Mar, California, the Racing Medication and Testing Consortium (RMTC) board approved the immediate funding of two grant projects focused on inhibiting illicit substance use.

One will study the detection of compounds called selective androgen receptor modulators (SARM) LGD-4033, which have the potential to mimic the effects of anabolic steroids on tissues—increasing muscle mass but lacking the androgenic effects that cause male characteristics. The goal of the second project is to improve the screening of and confirmation sensitivity for erythropoietin (EPO, which stimulate red blood cell production and, thus, blood’s oxygen-carrying capacity)-stimulating agents (ESAs) administered in very small amounts (called micro-dosing) to obtain a blood-doping effect while avoiding detection.

The RMTC board heard plans for the creation of a four-year grant program beginning in 2018 to encourage tactical research into the detection and identification of illicit substances. The RMTC will pursue contributions from other industry groups and individuals to match the funds the consortium provides. The funding level has not been finalized but is expected to be at least $500,000.

“We want this program to provide researchers a consistent funding source for these types of tactical research projects,” said RMTC Executive Director Dionne Benson, DVM. “This initiative will enable us to make significant advances in targeting emerging threats and developing new techniques to test for them—both of which are essential to effectively regulating our sport.”

Benson also updated the board on the adoption status of the National Uniform Medication Program (NUMP). She said the controlled therapeutic substances list has now been adopted in 22 of the 34 harness and flat racing pari-mutuel states, third-party veterinarian administration of furosemide has been adopted in 20, and the multiple medication violations penalty system has been adopted in 15 states. In addition, she informed the board that the University of Florida laboratory’s application has been reviewed and the process of accreditation is underway. With the addition of the Florida laboratory, RMTC-accredited laboratories and those in the process of accreditation are now responsible for the testing of samples for 31 jurisdictions.

“While we are encouraged to see University of Florida’s laboratory working to meet the RMTC Laboratory Accreditation standards, we urge the Delaware harness, South Dakota, Louisiana, and Iowa commissions to utilize an RMTC-accredited laboratory,” said RMTC Chair Alex Waldrop. “Every laboratory across the U.S. must be RMTC-accredited so that the testing of horse racing samples can consistently and reliably detect a wide variety of substances at low concentrations.”

In other business, several model rule recommendations were approved by the RMTC board for forwarding to the Association of Racing Commissioners International including:

  • A model rule stating a claim shall be voided if that horse satisfies the regulatory authority’s definition of a claimed horse and dies or is euthanized, or is placed on the Official Veterinarians’ List prior to physical transfer to the claimant. The claimant can override the voiding of a claim for a vet-listed horse by so indicating on the official claim form at the time the claim is submitted.
  • A model rule requiring every veterinarian treating a racehorse at a facility under the racing authority jurisdiction to submit a Veterinarian’s Medication Report Form to the official veterinarian or other regulatory authority designee in a manner specified by the regulatory authority and in an approved format.
  • A model rule requiring trainers or their designee to maintain complete records for at least the last 30 days of all corticosteroid and intra-articular (in the joint) injections for all horses in his or her control including the date of the injection, name of the veterinarian performing the injection, articular space(s) or structure(s) injected, medications or biologicals used to inject each articular space, and dose in milligrams of each corticosteroid used. If a horse is successfully claimed by a new owner, the trainer of record at time of race must provide that horse’s complete corticosteroid and intra-articular injection record(s) for the last 30 days.

    The 30-day records can be provided in paper or electronic form but must be provided in a format approved by the regulatory authority. They must be provided to the new trainer within 48 hours of the transfer of the horse—the trainer or his/her designee shall notify the regulatory veterinarian when the records have been provided. Submission may be delegated to the treating veterinarian, who shall provide the report to the new trainer within 48 hours of the transfer of the horse. Failure of the trainer to provide the 30-day record shall result in disciplinary action.

The RMTC board decided to seek comments from constituents over the next 30 days on a trainer’s treatment records model rule, which will be presented to them again at a later date.

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.

For additional information, visit the RMTC website at rmtcnet.com or contact Hallie Lewis, RMTC communications and development consultant, at 859/224-2848.

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