HIWU issues notice on enforcement of regulation on bisphosphonates

By: Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association

Posted: March 10, 2023

In advance of the anticipated effective date of the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Authority’s Anti-Doping and Medication Control on March 27, 2023, the Horseracing Integrity & Welfare Unit issued a memo regarding regulations pertaining to the presence and use of bisphosphonates in covered horses.

Bisphosphonates are a class of medication prescribed for managing clinical signs associated with navicular syndrome in horses 4 years old or above. They also have a history of extra-label use in younger horses. Bisphosphonates may be detected in samples from treated horses for months to years after administration; they have been banned in Thoroughbred racing jurisdictions including those in the Mid-Atlantic region for about four years.

The ADMC Program regulations categorize bisphosphonates as a banned substance—they are prohibited from being administered to, or present in, covered horses at any time. Covered horses that test positive for bisphosphonates under the ADMC Program are subject to lifetime ineligibility, and associated covered persons may incur an anti-doping rule violation.

Given the prolonged detection period for bisphosphonates and the fact that their use is permitted in other racing jurisdictions internationally, HIWU issued the following:

“HIWU will not pursue disciplinary action against covered horses or their associated covered person(s) for the presence of bisphosphonates if the covered person(s) can provide documentation (medical records or a positive test result) to HIWU of the administration or presence of bisphosphonates prior to the implementation date of the ADMC Program. In accordance with HISA’s requirements for covered Horses, all medical records, including any relevant test results, must be uploaded to the HISA portal.

“Additionally, due to the variability of bisphosphonate detection through laboratory analysis, all bisphosphonate findings detected under the ADMC Program will undergo thorough review regardless of the alleged timing of administration.”