ARCI President Ed Martin Issues Statement On Louisiana Medication Rules

Ed Martin | Oaklawn Park

The day after the Louisiana Racing Commission held an emergency meeting in which it voted to restore the Association of Racing Commissioners International (ARCI) guidelines that were governing Clenbuterol and Depo-Medrol in the state, the President of the ARCI, Ed Martin, reacted to the news in a press release. The statement is printed in its entirety.

“The ARCI Model Rules process has served the horse racing industry and fans well for decades and has been a vehicle to achieve a substantially common approach to anti-doping regulation in a sport not limited by the borders or any state, province or county.

Recent actions by the Louisiana Racing Commission indicated a desire to rethink some of those rules. We respect the laws that authorize each regulatory entity to determine its own rules, but we encourage a collective and transparent approach to policy formation where all viewpoints are openly considered and discussed. That is what the ARCI Model Rules process offers.

Reasonable people can disagree on a particular rule, threshold or recommended policy. There are clearly different approaches to anti-doping in sport and athlete health as evidenced by the World Anti-Doping Agencies policy of permitting the use of certain medications in training and competition if there is a documented medical need. With the exception of Lasix, horse racing does not allow equine athletes to compete with such substances.

Years ago, when I discussed these different approaches to integrity with the head of the Partnership for Clean Competition (U.S. human sport's equivalent of the RMTC) she said the thinking of those making the rules was that certain medically necessary administrations would not allow the athlete to compete beyond his or her natural ability and was therefore not considered doping.

Representatives from the Louisiana Racing Commission have told ARCI that the impetus for their desire to revisit their medication rules is based on a desire to protect the health of each horse and not to negatively affect the integrity of any race.

The ARCI Model Rules are a living document. If there is compelling reason to modify a recommended policy we have demonstrated time and again our ability to do that. Sometimes we decide not to change a recommended policy but that is after open discussion and debate. Some agree with what we recommend, some don't but the recommendations are the collective thinking of our member agencies.

Louisiana has asked the ARCI to consider the information they reviewed that prompted some of the modifications they put forward. We will do that through our Drug Testing Standards and Practices Committee (DTSP), chaired by Dr. John Chancey, DVM. We will consider this in an open forum and other organizations, individuals or regulatory entities like HISA afforded the opportunity to provide input.

Horse racing continues to struggle with breakdowns. By working together collectively we have reduced the rate, but we must remain ever vigilant to ensure that we never stop trying to improve.

We applaud yesterday's decision by the Louisiana Commission to re-engage in this process. I make no representation as to what will or will not happen as a result of our discussions.   Likewise, we would encourage HISA to become active in the ARCI Model Rules process as the horse racing industry does not stop with Thoroughbreds or at the borders of the U.S. or states where HISA is in effect.

We continue to encourage all racing regulatory entities to rely upon the Model Rules.

There is nothing wrong with a regulatory entity trying a new approach and it should not matter whether it is Louisiana, HISA or someone else. What matters is whether it works better than what we have been doing. If it does, then everyone should embrace it.”

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