Proposal would greatly increase sanctions for doping, endangerment

Posted: April 11, 2019

The Drug Testing Standards and Practices Committee of the Association of Racing Commissions International is considering a major change to the recommended penalties for violations of the association’s medication rules to dramatically increase sanctions on those violations that can be considered “doping” or “equine endangerment.”

An ARCI workgroup has been quietly working for the past year to put together a system to increase penalties for violations categorized as “Doping of Equine Endangerment.” Penalties for such violations would be effectively doubled from the existing Class A penalties, with a first violation requiring a two- to five-year suspension of the trainer and a minimum $50,000 fine that could be increased to $100,000 with aggravating circumstances. A second violation in any jurisdiction would trigger a license revocation.

The proposal would also impose a $25,000 fine on an owner if there is a second lifetime offense in the owner’s stable in any jurisdiction. A third offense would suspend the owner for a minimum of 30 days to as much as a year and impose a minimum fine of $50,000 that could be increased to $100,000.

Because of the seriousness of the violations a summary suspension would be required, pending any appeal.

Existing penalties for medication overages would remain the same and many would be re-categorized as a “Treatment Misapplication & Mismanagement.” If the substance or the quantity of a substance found in horse would warrant an equine endangerment charge, it would be the regulatory agency’s equine medical director or veterinarian who would have to recommend such action to the stewards.

The proposal also contains a minimum $500 fine for a first-time failure to keep or report required treatment records. A second offense would bring a $2,500 fine and a third offense a $5,000 fine plus a referral to the commission for possible license review.

In August 2017 the ARCI Board of Directors tasked the DTSP Committee with performing a review of the current penalty guidelines and structure with an eye toward differentiating between violations that could clearly be called “doping” or “equine endangerment” from those that were overages of therapeutic medications with less of an impact on performance by virtual of being classified as a Class 4 or 5 drug. Following that meeting an online survey was conducted of DTSP Committee members and a similar survey was conducted of interested industry contacts. A conference call was held to discuss the project and a smaller group provided subsequent input.

Recognizing that the task was a potentially enormous undertaking, DTSP Committee Chair Duncan Patterson, Chair of the Delaware Thoroughbred Commission, asked former ARCI Chair Dan Hartman to coordinate a workgroup to flesh out what a modified penalty guideline system might look like.

The following individuals agreed to serve on the workgroup and spent countless hours discussing almost every substance contained on the ARCI Classification of Substances document. Those who worked on the project were Dr. Kathy Anderson, former President of the American Association of Equine Practitioners; Dr. Charles Vail, a past AAEP President and former member of the Colorado Racing Commission; John Ward, a former regulator and lifelong horseman; Rick Baedeker, Executive Director of the California Horse Racing Board; Mike Hopkins, a former horsemen and Executive Director of the Maryland Racing Commission; and Dan Hartman, Director of the Colorado Division of Racing Events.

The draft proposal was circulated at the ARCI Conference on Racing Integrity and Equine Welfare April 2-5 in California with a request that it be circulated for industry review, comment, and potential modification where appropriate. The draft documents are posted online and anyone interesting in commenting or making a related proposal may do so by emailing comments or documents to

ARCI Proposed Penalties Matrix

ARCI Proposed Penalty Review Classifications