Edited Press Release
The anticipated implementation of the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Authority's (HISA) Anti-Doping and Medication Control (ADMC) Program by the Horseracing Integrity & Welfare Unit (HIWU) on Mar. 27 will strengthen equine welfare and enhance confidence in the fairness of the sport. Here are the top 10 ways HISA's ADMC Program will change racing for the better:
1. For the first time, rules will be uniform and standardized across all states.
The ADMC Program will bring all testing and results management under one central authority, ensuring greater transparency, accountability and consistent application across the country.
2. A paperless chain of custody and collection system will be deployed nationwide.
Sample collection personnel, who will all be trained and certified by HIWU on ADMC Program-compliant protocols, will utilize a paperless system via HIWU's new app, greatly reducing the current inefficient and time-consuming paperwork requirements. The app electronically records the entire sample collection process, and horsemen can receive an electronic receipt of their horses' test sessions via email.
3. Laboratories will be accredited, and their processes harmonized, enabling test results to come back faster in many jurisdictions.
All laboratories that will conduct testing under the ADMC Program must be accredited by the Racing Medication and Testing Consortium (RMTC) and meet the performance specifications to enter into a contract with HIWU. This ensures all labs will be held to the same performance standards regardless of the state they operate in. The harmonization of laboratory processes will ensure consistency in every aspect – from the list of substances tested to the levels at which they are tested. As a result, horsemen can have greater confidence in testing results and assurance that any local, lab-specific factors are not affecting testing outcomes.
Laboratory result turnaround times will enable test results to be delivered promptly so that any procedural issues can be dealt with swiftly. The standard turnaround time will be no more than 10 business days after receipt of the samples for Post-Race test results and no more than five business days for Vets' List clearance test results – a significant improvement for many jurisdictions.
4. ADMC violations will be clearly divided into two categories with differing degrees of penalties.
HISA's ADMC Program explicitly divides substances on its Prohibited List into two categories: (1) Controlled Medications (therapeutic substances that are permitted outside of race day and other specific periods); and (2) Banned Substances (substances that should never be present in a horse).
The substances are categorized differently because HISA recognizes that they can have different effects on a horse and should result in different consequences. Violations involving Controlled Medications and Methods are categorized as Controlled Medication Rule Violations (CMRV), while violations involving Banned Substances and Methods are categorized as Anti-Doping Rule Violations (ADRV). Harsher penalties will be associated with ADRVs because Banned Substances are detrimental to equine welfare, often enhance performance and should never be present in a horse's body.
5. The national results management system will be managed by one central authority rather than a patchwork of local entities.
The results management and adjudication processes under the ADMC Program are organized specifically to avoid potential local biases and ensure swift and consistent outcomes for all racing participants. Under this system, all laboratory test results will be sent directly to HIWU, which will notify individuals of Adverse Analytical Findings (positive tests) and be responsible for the investigation and prosecution process.
Adjudication decisions will be made by the Internal Adjudication Panel (IAP) for CMRVs and the independent Arbitral Body for ADRVs – replacing the previous inconsistent adjudication processes run by state courts, state racing commissions, and stewards. Final decisions by the IAP and Arbitral Body can be appealed to a federal Administrative Law Judge.
6. Anti-Doping Rule Violations involving the presence, use, administration, or attempted administration of a Banned Substances will automatically trigger a Provisional Suspension of the relevant Covered Person, pending full adjudication.
This measure is critical to ensuring integrity in our sport and is a departure from the processes which previously allowed cheaters to evade accountability by exploiting the rule discrepancies in various jurisdictions, continuing to race as they filed appeals and avoided sanctions – including disqualifications – through lengthy litigation.
7. Testing will be intelligence-based so HIWU is able to effectively catch cheaters while using resources efficiently.
The ADMC Program will introduce an intelligence-driven strategic testing plan to be deployed uniformly across the country. Intelligence-based testing has proven effective in catching bad actors when used in other sports and jurisdictions. HIWU's operations team will take an interdisciplinary approach in its allocation of testing across the country with a focus on ensuring the quality and effectiveness of the doping control process.
The operational strategy will also be informed by collaboration with HIWU's investigations unit to incorporate and act on pertinent information received through its anonymous whistleblower platforms. Intelligence from “boots-on-the-ground” industry participants, including stewards and veterinarians, and continued cooperation with state racing commissions and laboratory/scientific partners will inform the test selection process.
8. A discretionary policy for positives resulting from potential environmental contamination is in place.
The ADMC Program's Atypical Findings Policy requires additional investigation in any instance in which a horse tests positive for a substance that has a higher risk of being present as a result of environmental contamination rather than intentional administration. If HIWU determines that the substance was present due to contamination, the test result may be considered negative, and no penalties will be issued.
9. More Out-of-Competition testing than ever before.
Under HISA's ADMC Program, HIWU will oversee the introduction of the first nationwide Out-of-Competition (OOC) testing program for Banned Substances. This extra layer of testing will weed out those who do not operate with integrity, deter others from doing the same and prioritize equine welfare year-round.
OOC testing will only regulate Banned Substances – not Controlled Medications. If a Covered Horse is located on private property, and the Responsible Person does not want sample collection personnel entering the property, they have the option to bring the Covered Horse to a location that is mutually agreed upon with HIWU e.g., racetrack, as long as the Covered Horse is presented at that location within six hours of notification of testing.
10. Investigations will be led by former law enforcement officers and seasoned racing experts.
HIWU's investigations unit, which will help lead the enforcement of the ADMC Program, is led by former law enforcement officials with considerable experience in the racing industry.
Naushaun “Shaun” Richards, who will serve as Director of Intelligence & Strategy, joined HIWU after a 23-year tenure with the FBI, where he initiated and directed the criminal investigation that resulted in the indictments of more than 30 individuals across the racing industry. Shawn Loehr, who will serve as Director of Investigative Operations, previously spent more than 27 years in California law enforcement, most recently spending nearly four years as the chief of enforcement and licensing for the California Horse Racing Board.