The Drug Testing Standards and Practices Committee of the Association of Racing Commissions International (ARCI) is considering a major change to the recommended penalties for violations of the association’s drug rules to dramatically increase sanctions on those violations that can be considered “doping” or “equine endangerment”.
An ARCI workgroup has been quietly working for the past year to put together a system to increase penalties for violations categorized as “Doping of Equine Endangerment”. Penalties for such violations would be effectively doubled from the existing Class A penalties, with a first violation requiring a two to five-year suspension of the trainer and a minimum $50,000 fine which could be increased to $100,000 with aggravating circumstances. A second violation in any jurisdiction would trigger a license revocation.
The proposal would also impose a $25,000 fine on an owner if there is a second lifetime offense in the owner’s stable in any jurisdiction. A third offense would suspend the owner for a minimum of thirty days to as much as a year and impose a minimum fine of $50,000 which could be increased to $100,000.
Because of the seriousness of these violations a summary suspension would be required, pending any appeal.
Existing penalties for medication overages would remain the same and many would be re-categorized as a “Treatment Misapplication & Mismanagement”. If the substance or the quantity of a substance found in horse would warrant an equine endangerment charge it would be the commission’s equine medical director or regulatory veterinarian who would have to recommend such to the Stewards.
The proposal also contains a minimum $500 fine for a first-time failure to keep or report required treatment records. A second offense would bring a $2,500 fine, a third offense a $5,000 fine plus a referral to the commission for possible license review.
In August 2017, the RCI Board tasked the DTSP Committee with performing a review of the current penalty guidelines and structure with an eye toward differentiating between violations that could clearly be called “doping” or “equine endangerment” from those that were overages of therapeutic medications with less of an impact on performance by virtual of being classified as a Class 4 or 5 drug.
Following that meeting an online survey was conducted of DTSP Committee members and a similar survey was conducted of interested industry contacts. A conference call was held to discuss the project and a smaller group provided subsequent input.
Recognizing that the task was a potentially enormous undertaking, Committee Chair Duncan Patterson, the Chair of the Delaware Thoroughbred Commission, asked former RCI Chair Dan Hartman to coordinate a workgroup to flesh out what a modified penalty guideline system might look like.
The following individuals agreed to serve on the workgroup and literally spent countless hours discussing almost every substance contained on the RCI Classification Document. Those who worked on the project were:
- Dr. Kathy Anderson, DVM – past AAEP President;
- Dr. Charles Vail, DVM – past AAEP President, former Colorado Racing Commissioner;
- Mr. John Ward – former regulator and lifelong horseman;
- Rick Baedeker – former track operator and current regulator;
- Mike Hopkins – former horseman and lifelong regulator, and;
- Dan Hartman, current regulator.
At last week’s committee meeting at the ARCI Annual Conference in Arcadia, California, the draft proposal was presented along with a request that it be circulated for industry review, comment, and potential modification where appropriate.
The draft documents are posted online and anyone interesting in commenting or making a related proposal may do so by emailing comments or documents to firstname.lastname@example.org
The draft penalty matrix for “Doping and Equine Endangerment” can be downloaded here.
The draft modified Classification schedule along with suggested penalty categories can be downloaded here. (Please note the tabs at the bottom of the page on the Classification schedule which organizes substances by Class.)
It is anticipated that this proposal will be a discussion item during the ARCI summer meetings in Saratoga, details of which are posted on the ARCI website.