Delaware commission working to avoid drug-testing issues, delays

By: Tom LaMarra

Posted: Aug. 20, 2020

Officials with the Delaware Thoroughbred Racing Commission on Aug. 20 said though there has been a gradual reduction in delays in the receipt of drug-testing results a California laboratory, it will take the matter under consideration when it considers its next lab contract for 2021.

Delaware is in a one-year contract extension with Truesdail Laboratories, which also handles testing for neighboring Maryland and New Jersey. All of those states have experienced lengthy delays in the reporting of test results this year, in part because of COVID-19 issues.

After the DTRC meeting in July, the Delaware Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association and Delaware Park worked out a system by which purses are held only 14 days after a race rather than when the results are confirmed. If a positive is eventually reported, the money must be paid back in 48 hours.

Maryland has a system whereby purses are paid within 72 hours after a race, and if there is a positive the money must be returned. New Jersey, which has had the worst delays this year, is working with the New Jersey Racing Commission to rectify a month-and-a-half delay in test results.

Another issue for Truesdail is that lost is accreditation from the Racing Medication and Testing Consortium because of a change it its accreditation from the International Organization for Standardization. DTRC Chairman Duncan Patterson said he was under the impression Tuesday regained ISO accreditation a few months ago but he didn’t know the status of the RMTC accreditation.

“It’s a problem,” Patterson said. “I don’t have a solution right now but it’s something we need to address before the next racing season.”

DTRC Acting Executive Director Sarah Crane said that as of Aug. 20 test results through July 20 had cleared, so the commission was waiting on the results from 16 racing days. The delays were much longer earlier in the meet, which began June 16.

“It was a lot worse but it’s heading in the other direction now,” Crane said.

The DTRC expects to have a request for proposals for labs prepared by early fall at the latest. Commissioners said it’s important to continuing working on standardized RFPs for testing from the region’s tracks to ensure samples are examined in the same manner from state to state.

Officials noted there are a limited number of labs that perform outside testing, and of those that do, the costs can be substantially higher.

(Delaware Park photo by Tom LaMarra)