RMTC OKs initiatives on racehorse drug testing, lab standards, research

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Aug 01, 2009
By dvm360.com staff

Lexington, Ky. — In another significant step toward reform of the nation's Thoroughbred racing industry, the Racing Medication and Testing Consortium (RMTC) board of directors approved new national laboratory standards for drug testing and created an accreditation program for laboratories, along with an independent Equine Quality Assurance Program to provide third-party examination of testing labs.

The initiatives were approved at the RMTC's most recent board meeting in Baltimore.

The new drug-testing standards are part of a series of steps the industry has been taking for the last 10 months toward improved self-regulation, transparency and uniformity of standards in the nation's 38 racing jurisdictions. Virtually all major organizations associated with racing are on board, including the RMTC, National Thoroughbred Racing Association (which adopted an accreditation program for racetracks earlier this year), the Jockey Club and the Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association.

"The RMTC has adopted standards that all testing laboratories will have to meet to gain accreditation, and we have begun the actual accreditation process," says Alan M. Foreman, RMTC vice chairman and CEO of the horsemen's association. "The new quality-assurance program will provide an independent, third-party examination of equine drug-testing laboratories, which is a totally new concept for the horse-racing industry. This work...will change the face of drug testing in this country."

In addition, the RMTC board committed $75,000 per year for three years for a matching grant graduate/post-doctoral research fellowship program aimed at helping develop the next generation of lab directors and researchers.

The board asked its scientific advisory panel to finalize recommendations for the RCI Model Rules Committee on plasma thresholds and corresponding withdrawal times for anabolic steroids. An explanation of how withdrawal times for permitted therapeutic medications are determined will be posted soon on http://rmtcnet.com/. Studies of essential non-raceday therapeutic medications to establish withdrawal-time recommendations are continuing, according to Scot Waterman, DVM and RMTC executive director.

"We are close to completing the first phase of withdrawal times recommendations, which we believe will reduce the number of violations for therapeutic medications across the country once adopted. This will benefit the entire industry," Waterman said.

The RMTC, based in Lexington, is made up of 25 racing-industry organizations that represent Thoroughbred, Standardbred, American Quarter Horse and Arabian racing.