HISA announces immediate policy changes on provisional suspensions

By: Tom LaMarra

Posted: July 28, 2023

After discussions with horsemen’s groups that raised questions about provisional suspensions issued by the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Authority and its Horseracing Integrity & Welfare Unit, the two entities on July 28 announced a policy change effective immediately that postpones enactment of the provisional suspension—with exceptions based upon the type of banned substance—until the results of a split sample for a positive test are received.

The HISA Anti-Doping and Medication Control Program Committee met July 21 to discuss the matter, according to an operations bulletin from HISA and HIWU. The bulletin noted that a trainer who had been provisionally suspended for 20 days after an initial positive for a banned substance had the suspension dropped after a split sample produced no evidence of the substance.

“This raised concerns regarding the imposition of provisional suspensions at this early stage of the AMDC Program’s rollout,” HISA and HIWU said. “This new policy will remain in effect for so long as the AMDC Committee deems appropriate. Should the (committee) decide at some future date to abandon or modify it, the industry will receive at least 30 days’ advance notice.”

The entities also stated that public reporting under the AMDC Program rules will continue at the time a laboratory reports the initial positive test result.

The policy change applies to any currently suspended responsible persons. HIWU will be in contact with all those currently provisionally suspended to explain next steps, the operations bulletin states. The responsible/covered person must pay for the B sample analysis within seven (7) calendar days of requesting it. In cases of financial hardship, and upon the demonstration of such hardship, the covered person may be entitled to a payment plan to cover the cost of B sample analysis.

The following is the new policy along with related information:

  1. Any responsible person who requests that the B sample be analyzed following a positive test for a banned substance shall be eligible for postponement of the effective date of the provisional suspension until such time as the B sample result is returned. If the B sample confirms the A sample, the responsible person shall be provisionally suspended upon notification of the B sSample confirmation, except that the responsible person shall not be required to scratch any covered horses entered to race prior to notification of the B sample confirmation. However, the responsible person shall not be entitled to enter any covered horses to race subsequent to notification.

2. Any responsible person who does not request the B sample analysis shall be provisionally suspended upon such election, except he/she shall not be required to scratch any covered horses entered to race prior to notification of the A sample positive finding. However, the responsible person shall not be entitled to enter any covered horses to race subsequent to notification.

3. Any responsible person with more than one horse that tests positive for the same banned substance within a six (6) month-period or who has received notice of another potential violation relating to a banned substance (e.g., possession, use) shall not be eligible for delayed imposition of a provisional suspension as set forth in paragraph 1 above.

4. Covered/responsible persons will continue to be provisionally suspended upon the notice of the A sample result if the result involves the detection of the following banned substances:

  • 3,4- methylenedioxypyprovalerone Methylphenidate (MDPV, Bath Salts)
  • Alpha-pyrrolidinovaleropenone (Alpha PVP)
  • Amphetamines (e.g. Methamphetamine, Cathinone, Mephentermine, Methcathinone)
  • Benzylpiperazine (BZP)
  • Chlorpromazine
  • Erythropoieten (EPO) and EPO mimetics
  • Ethylphenidate
  • Etorphine
  • Fentanyl and Fentanyl analogs
  • Mazindol
  • Meldonium
  • Metaraminol
  • Methaqualone
  • Methylhexanamine
  • Methylphenidate
  • Mitragynine
  • Myo-inositol trispyrophosphate (ITPP)
  • Nikethamide
  • Opioids (natural and synthetic) and Opioid agonists (e.g. Apomorphine, Hydrocodone, Hydromorphone, Oxycodone)
  • Pentylenetetrazol
  • Phencyclidine (PCP)
  • Phendimetrazine
  • Phenmetrazine
  • Strychnine
  • Synthetic cannabinoids
  • Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)
  • Venoms and toxins (e.g. Alpha Cobratoxin, Ziconotide, Botulinum Toxin)

5. During a provisional suspension, which is not a final suspension, covered/responsible persons may engage in caring for and exercising their covered horses, except they cannot breeze or race covered horses registered to them. Should they want any covered horses to breeze or race, they must transfer those horses to another responsible person in a bona fide transfer approved by the stewards. If the responsible/covered person is an owner, ownership of the covered horse must be transferred in order for it to be eligible to breeze or race. In addition, covered/responsible persons must take down or cover any personal signage bearing their name or related to their operations where the covered horses are located at the racetrack; cannot claim covered horses or bring new covered horses into their barn; and cannot be employed in any capacity involving covered horses (including, but not limited to, acting as an agent for an owner of covered horses or working as an exercise rider for covered horses.)