Officials outline HISA Anti-Doping and Medication Control Program

By: Tom LaMarra

Posted: March 3, 2023

In preparation for the launch of the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Authority’s Anti-Doping and Medication Control Program, representatives of the organization’s Horseracing Integrity & Welfare Unit visited Laurel Park Feb. 21 to explain the program to horsemen and veterinarians.

HISA officials in late February said they expect the Federal Trade Commission to approve the AMDC Program regulations by March 27 despite ongoing litigation regarding HISA. HIWU officials have also visited other jurisdictions in advance of launch of the program.

HISA contracted with Drug Free Sport International to create HIWU, which is charged with overseeing the AMDC Program. That includes equine drug testing, results management and adjudication, investigations, laboratory accreditation, and educational programs for participants. DFSI, which handles about 135,000 human drug tests a year worldwide in other sports, will be employing labs that currently handle equine drug testing for many states.

Dr. Mary Scollay, HIWU Chief of Science, explained how the program will work and the differences from existing regulations in Maryland and beyond. She indicated that HIWU, in deference to horsemen, will take a somewhat different approach from the International Federation of Horseracing Authorities, which is specifically mentioned in the 2020 HISA law.

The IFHA publishes detection times for various substances, but it doesn’t offer withdrawal time guidance, Scollay said. Detection times are the first sampling point at which a substance is below the screening limit, while withdrawal guidance is a recommendation based on a statistical method at a specified point in time.

The Racing Medication and Testing Consortium was asked to review data on commonly used and accepted therapeutic medications and issue, where possible, withdrawal guidance for horsemen. Alan Foreman, Chairman of the Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association and RMTC Co-Vice Chair, said that process is well underway.

“We’re urging guidance for horsemen and veterinarians so they can comply with the new rules,” Foreman said. “There will be guidance coming and we believe the guidance will be helpful.”

Guidance is expected for 28 substances, and possibly 11 more. Foreman said the THA plans to disseminate the information upon completion of the review.

As for testing under the AMDC Program, HIWU Executive Director Ben Mosier said it will be “driven by intelligence” and will include random and targeted tests.

“We will be working with the stewards to ensure we have live performance data for (special tests) on a daily basis,” he said. “All of the normal industry policies that currently exist will continue to be utilized.”

Under the AMDC Program, all test results will be sent to HIWU, not state racing regulatory agencies as is now the case. Violations will fall in two categories: anti-doping rule violations, which are for banned substances and methods, and controlled medication rules violations, which are for therapeutic substances and methods.

In the case of a positive test, HIWU will notify the relevant covered person of the result and be responsible for the investigation and prosecution process, including the selection of labs for “B” sample–a split sample–analysis, initiation of proceedings, and imposition of penalties if there are penalties.

CMRV cases will be heard by appointees to a panel of 15-20 members selected by HISA and HIWU based on previous equine regulatory experience; the pool will include state stewards, who are only permitted to hear cases that do not originate in the state in which they are employed. Members will be appointed to hear specific CMRV cases on a rotating basis following case reviews and conflicts-of-interest checks.

For both ADRV and CMRV cases, covered persons are entitled to the opportunity to provide written submissions and present evidence on their behalf to the assigned adjudicator or adjudicators. HIWU is required under the HISA law to publicly disclose the resolution of a potential violation within 20 days of a final decision, a resolution between HIWU and the covered person, or withdrawal of a charge by HIWU. Final decisions can be appealed to a federal administrative law judge.