ARCI report: 99.59% of equine drug-testing samples found compliant in 2022

By: Tom LaMarra

Posted: June 30, 2023

The Association of Racing Commissioners International June 30 released results that show 2022 equine drug-testing programs for Thoroughbred, Standardbred and Quarter Horse racing “indicate significant compliance” with regulations and are comparable to those governed by the World Anti-Doping Agency. The report indicates that 99.59% of samples were found compliant.

Duncan Patterson, Chairman of the Delaware Thoroughbred Racing Commission and Chairman of the ARCI Drug Testing Standards and Practices Committee, provided the report to the ARCI Board of Directors. The report shows data from all states except Texas, Maine, Montana and North Dakota.

According to the data, United States racing regulatory associations sent about 206,498 biological samples to a network of independent testing laboratories. The samples included 23,116 samples taken out of competition and 183,382 post-race.

ARCI President Ed Martin said 11.2% of horses tested through out-of-competition protools even though only 17 states had such a program. He noted that an expansion of out-of-competition testing in Thoroughbred racing is expected given the launch of the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Authority’s Anti-Doping and Medication Control Program earlier this spring.

“There were 842 adverse analytical findings indicating the presence of a substance that should not be in the sample and a likely violation of the rules,” Patterson said. “The overwhelming majority of samples tested—99.59%—were found to be compliant with the rules which were substantially consistent, but not totally uniform, across the jurisdictions.”

As a result of HISA, all Thoroughbred races now have uniform rules. State rules governing Standardbred and Quarter Horse racing are substantially similar but not totally uniform as there are minor variations, ARCI officials said.

Consistent with prior years, the majority of substances detected are indicative of a therapeutic overage—at least 59.2%. Instances that can be clearly described as “doping” reflect 16% of the substances found, or just 0.02% of all samples tested.

Individual substances are categorized pursuant to the ARCI Uniform Classification Guidelines for Foreign Substances on a scale of one to five as to the seriousness of a finding in terms of appropriateness to be present in a horse and the ability to affect performance.

Patterson reported that racing’s program with a 0.41 adverse finding rate is comparable to Olympic sport. “The testing done for the Olympics and other sports covered by the World Anti-Doping Agency have shown similar results with 99.35% of samples having no issue,” he said.

Patterson noted the magnitude of the equine drug-testing and medication control program in the U.S. “Worldwide tests for WADA totaled 241,430 in 2021. In 2022 U.S. state racing commissions conducted over 206,498 tests not including four states that did not report,” he said.

PDF release with agency-specific numbers available here.