HISA defers action on provisional suspensions for metformin pending further study

By: Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association

Posted: June 4, 2024

The Horseracing Integrity and Safety Authority June 4 announced that effective immediately, the HISA Board of Directors has requested that the Horseracing Integrity & Welfare Unit defer active provisional suspensions for metformin positives pending further study.

According to the release, HISA took the action following the recommendations of the Anti-Doping and Medication Control Standing Committee.

The deferral of provisional suspensions for metformin, which remains a banned substance, is only applicable to the responsible person, normally the trainer. Covered horses that test positive for metformin are still subject to a provisional suspension.

During the interim period metformin remains on the Prohibited Substances List and, as such, regardless of the source and/or the existence of any mitigating circumstances, any ADMC program violation resulting from an adverse analytical finding for metformin will result in the automatic disqualification of race results of the relevant horse.

“In line with HISA’s Anti-Doping and Medication Control requirements, metformin is included in the Prohibited Substances List because there is no recognized therapeutic use for the substance in horses involved in Thoroughbred racing,” said Charles Scheeler, Chairman of the HISA Board of Directors. “In addition, HIWU has intelligence that some horsemen may be using metformin to try and gain a performance advantage. However, there is limited scientific information available regarding the substance’s use in horses.

“The HISA Board feels that further expert analysis on the topic is necessary to determine if any refinement of HISA’s rules is appropriate.”

HISA and HIWU have asked the Racing Medication and Testing Consortium’s Scientific Advisory Committee to conduct a review of the available science relating to metformin. Following approval from the RMTC Board of Directors, any conclusions drawn, and guidance produced regarding the SAC’s review, will be shared with HISA’s ADMC Committee.

Once the RMTC Scientific Advisory Committee completes its work, which is expected to take a few months, the ADMC Committee and the HISA Board will determine whether any policy changes regarding metformin should be submitted to the Federal Trade Commission for approval.

“HISA is grateful for the feedback from all industry constituents, especially the Horsemen’s Advisory Group, as we continue to refine our regulatory program to make horse racing safer and fairer for all,” the release said.