31 March 2011

US calls for phase out of drugs in racing

In a major announcement that has grabbed headlines across the US thoroughbred industry, both the out-going & in-coming chairmen of the Association Of Racing Commissioners International "have called for a 5-year phase-out of equine medication in horse racing" reportedbloodhorse.com. Out-going chairman Dan Hartman (from the Colorado Racing Commission) said "a 5-year phase-out is reasonable to bring North American racing policies in line with what is going on in other parts of the world like Europe & Hong Kong." He added a "phased approach" would give horsemen & owners "sufficient time to adjust to the change". New chairman Willie Koester (from the Ohio State Racing Commission) agreed with Hartman & noted: "Today over 99% of thoroughbred racehorses have a needle stuck in them 4 hours before a race. That just does not pass the smell test with the public or anyone else, except horse trainers who think it necessary to win a race. I'm sure the decision-makers at the time meant well when these drugs were permitted; however, this decision has forced our jurisdictions to juggle threshold levels as horsemen become more desperate to win races & it has given horse racing a black eye." Koester declared "change is inevitable" & called for RCI "to take the moral high ground & implement drug rules that mirror the racing in Australia, Dubai, Europe, Hong Kong & even Russia." (Mar 30)

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