Updated penalty system rule progresses in WV legislature

Posted: Feb. 23, 2017

Proposed amendments to Thoroughbred racing rules, including the updated Multiple Medication Violation Penalty System model rule, passed the West Virginia Senate Feb. 17 and await approval by the House of Delegates.

West Virginia Racing Commission officials attempted to fast-track the updated MMV rule, which is one of four major components of the National Uniform Medication Program. The package of rule changes was submitted last year for approval by the legislature this year, and normally wouldn’t be amended this late in the game.

The racing commission, however, made a special request for action, and WVRC Senior Deputy Attorney General Kelli Talbott Feb. 21 said there remains a chance the MMV model rule revisions approved by the Association of Racing Commissioners International in December could become statutory this year rather than in 2018.

Talbott said the House Finance Committee made some changes to the Senate racing rules, so the next step is the Senate Judiciary Committee.

“Hopefully we’ll get the House side to match the Senate rule that passed,” she said.

Talbott also said a meeting of the Thoroughbred Rules Committee—a group of industry stakeholders that recommends rule changes to be submitted to the legislature—will meet soon in the wake of a WVRC mandate that Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races and Mountaineer Casino, Racetrack & Resort seek accreditation from the National Thoroughbred Racing Association Safety and Integrity Alliance.

The two tracks submitted applications for accreditation, but Talbott noted the alliance code of standards contains some rules that differ from those in West Virginia statute. The proposed changes, which would help the tracks earn accreditation, would be included in rule proposals for the 2018 legislative session.

In other business at the Feb. 21 WVRC meeting, officials said they are working with the commission’s contracted drug-testing lab, Industrial Laboratories of Colorado, to improve the turnaround time for test results. The effort stemmed from concerns by the Mountaineer Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association about procedures in which stewards may be notified of “cloudy” test results within five days of testing, but confirmative results may not be available for at least another five days.

WVRC Executive Director Joe Moore said Industrial is preparing a six-month report on testing, shipment of samples, and issuance of test results.

“They also have a vested interest in turnaround time,” Moore said of the lab. “They are looking into why cloudy tests are being returned in the first five days to begin with.”

A cloudy test result only indicates the possible presence of a substance or substances in blood or urine.

(Mountaineer photo by Tom LaMarra)