California’s thoroughbred owners announced Thursday that they are committed to joining eight other states in adopting a common medication program that could lead to national standards for horse doping.
The Thoroughbred Owners of California said in a statement that the organization is throwing its support behind the Mid Atlantic Uniform Medication Program, saying ”it is vitally important to help bring together a national effort and uniformity when it comes to medication.”
The program provides a two-category drug system in an attempt to draw a clear line between therapeutic medications and banned substances in an attempt to keep horsemen from being punished for legal medications that remain in a horse’s system before a race.
Dr. Rick Arthur, medical director of the California Horse Racing Board, said too often officials have played ”gotcha” with owners and trainers, who had to worry they would be penalized for race-day residue from drugs that were legal and medically necessary when they were used.
”This is what horsemen have been clamoring for for years,” Arthur said.
California would join New York, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia in the system.
The decision ultimately rests with the CHRB. Arthur said the group’s medication committee approved the regulatory language Wednesday. A full is expected in July.
The problem of performance-enhancing drug use in horse racing has received increased attention in recent years, including Congressional hearings in 2012.
Last year before the Belmont Stakes, an Associated Press review found that of the 11 trainers with horses in the race, 10 had at least one violation of medication regulations set by state racing boards.