Model rule changes consider mitigating factors for lesser violations

Posted: Aug. 15, 2017

Model rule changes approved by the Association of Racing Commissioners International board of directors are designed to provide stewards and judges with greater flexibility to consider mitigating factors when they rule on lower-level medication violations.

ARCI also will begin examining its penalty guidelines to ensure more balance, the organization said Aug. 14.

The latest version of the Model Rules of Racing permits stewards and judges to look at mitigating factors before they decide whether to make a violator forfeit a purse in cases involving Class C penalties. A few substances in that category are aminocaproic acid, betamethasone, and dexamethasone.

ARCI President Ed Martin said consideration of mitigating circumstances has long been permitted for Class B penalty violations, and the recently approved model rule changes extend current policy to lesser offenses.

The overall look at the recommended penalties guidelines for therapeutic medication and doping violations will be handled by the ARCI Drug Testing Standards and Practices Committee, said RCI Chair Jeff Colliton, who chairs the Washington State Racing Commission. Delaware Thoroughbred Racing Commission Chair Duncan Patterson is charged with coordinating the review in consultation with committee members and industry stakeholders.

The latest version of the Uniform Classification Guidelines for Foreign Substances and Recommended Penalties Model Rule is available here.

“Some have argued that the recommended penalties may not be tough enough for the most egregious violations or that isolated minor offenses are treated too harshly,” Martin said. “This has not been examined in depth for many years, and the board believes this review is overdue.”

In related action, the ARCI board voted not to modify an existing rule that requires independent third-party administration of Lasix on race day. Some states, because of various laws and regulations, use different approaches to achieve the same result, but a proposal to include those approaches in the model rule was rejected.

The board also affirmed current policy that assigns four (4) Multiple Medication Violation Penalty System Points for TCO2—”milkshaking”—violations. Third-party Lasix administration and the MMV Penalty System are part of the National Uniform Medication Program.

Meanwhile, in the wake of repeated discussion over use of the riding crop in races, the board approved preliminary changes designed to strengthen the existing model rule. Martin said final adoption and publication is contingent upon a clear definition of the term “chance to respond” so racing officials can have more direction in determining violations.