The world governing body for horse racing has endorsed a newly drafted international agreement relating to out-of-competition medication testing for horses.
The executive council of the International Federation of Horseracing Authorities (IFHA), which met at the 35th Asian Racing Conference in Hong Kong this week, unanimously agreed during the session, titled Fair Competition and Drug Control, to the best-practice principles detailed in the newly drafted Article 6E of the International Agreement on Breeding, Racing, and Wagering.
The session also featured a presentation from world sports-medicine expert Dr Perikles Simon, under the heading, “Leveling the Doping Field”.
The central basis of Article 6E is that authorities should be able to carry out testing for prohibited substances at any time in the career of any horse, from the commencement of training to final retirement from racing, at their discretion.
IFHA chairman Louis Romanet said a fundamental component of any racing authorities’ doping control is the ability to test for prohibited substances from the beginning of a racehorse’s training to the conclusion of its racing career.
“Without a strong out-of-competition testing program, the interests of racing, breeding, and wagering participants and stakeholders are seriously compromised.
“While some racing authorities may face difficulty in accomplishing out-of-competition testing due to regulatory constraints or jurisdictional practices, it is critical that each authority examine its current drug control regulations and protocols to ensure out-of-competition testing is in place, or begin steps for implementation.”
The new Article 6E also calls for full traceability of horses that have been selected for out-of-competition testing. The responsible party, owner or trainer, must readily be able to inform the domestic racing authority of the exact location of a racehorse who is the subject of such testing. Failure to do so may result in the subject racehorse being refused entry in any pending races and being ineligible to enter any race for six months.
Romanet said the IFHA supported a total ban on race-day medication and bans on anabolic agents throughout a horse’s career.
Dr Simon, from Johannes Gutenberg University in Germany, is a sports medicine and molecular biologist who was one of the original seven-member “Gene Doping” group of experts within the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), charged with developing strategies for the prevention and detection of non-therapeutic use of gene protein in sport.
He said he was confident science could win the war against drugs, provided other factors could be overcome. “While there may well be some drugs or combinations of drugs and methods of which the anti-doping community is unaware, the science now available is both robust and reliable. The real problems are human and political factors,” he said, noting that total revenue generated by elite sports dwarfed the amount spent on new detection procedures.
Presentations were also made by Dr Yves Bonnaire, general manager of the French Racing Laboratory, who gave an update on prohibited substances; Dr Seungho Ryu, international racing manager of the Korea Racing Authority, who outlined drug control in Korea; and Dr Paul Marie Gadot, head of the Horses and Control Department of France Galop, whose subject was immunocastration and regularity of racing.
In a discussion which ended the session, president and chief operating officer of The Jockey Club, James Gagliano, was questioned about the situation in the US. He said: “Recent events have further galvanised our spirit to improve in all areas. The industry requires consumer confidence and trust and the welfare of the horse is a high priority.”