Comments sought for proposed changes in penalty guidelines

By: Tom LaMarra

Posted: May 20, 2019

A proposed major revision in penalty guidelines that would double sanctions for the most serious offenses has been released for public comment by the Association of Racing Commissioners International Drug Testing Standards and Practices Committee.

As was discussed at the ARCI annual meeting in April, the proposed rules call for two categories of violations: “Doping or Equine Endangerment” and “Treatment Misapplication and Mismanagement.” The categories clearly separate doping from use of legal, regulated therapeutic medications.

ARCI said the committee is seeking industry and public input before the proposed revisions move forward. The revisions were developed by former American Association of Equine Practitioners Presidents Dr. Kathy Anderson and Dr. Charles Vail; trainer and former regulator John Ward; California Horse Racing Board Executive Director Rick Baedeker; Maryland Racing Commission Executive Director Mike Hopkins; and Dan Hartman, Director of the Colorado Division of Racing.

According to a release, penalties for “Doping or Equine Endangerment” violations would be effectively doubled from the existing Class A penalties—a first violation would require a two- to five-year suspension of the trainer and a minimum $50,000 fine that could be increased to $100,000 with aggravating circumstances. A second violation in any jurisdiction would trigger a license revocation.

The proposed guidelines 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. An owner would be suspended for 30 days to up to a one year and fined $50,000 to $100,000 for a third offense.

ARCI said that because of the seriousness of “Doping or Equine Endangerment” violations, a summary suspension would be immediately required regardless of whether there is an appeal or not.

Because ARCI Model Rules require disclosure to a racing commission or the maintenance of required treatment records for certain substances, a recommended penalty for failure to do so calls for a minimum $500 fine for a first-time offense. A second offense would result in a $2,500 fine while a third offense would warrant a $5,000 fine plus referral to the regulatory agency for possible license review.

The ARCI Model Rules Committee is scheduled to meet Aug. 8 in Saratoga Springs, N.Y. The Drug Testing Standards and Practices Committee will review comments and proposed changes via a conference call meeting prior to the Saratoga meeting. Industry and public comments and proposed modifications to the proposal should be submitted prior to Aug. 1 and emailed to rules@arci.com.

The draft penalty matrix for “Doping or Equine Endangerment” is available here.

The draft modified drug classification system and suggested penalty categories is available here.