Tackling the use of illicit substances in the horse world has advanced in recent month with three “tactical research” studies by the Racing Medication and Testing Consortium (RMTC).
Tactical research studies focus on detecting, identifying and inhibiting the use of illicit substances.
The first study to be published, L-and D-threo Ethylphenidate Concentrations, Pharmacokinetics and Pharmacodynamics in Horses, was funded with significant assistance from the American Quarter Horse Association (AQHA) Foundation. The research was performed by Dr Heather Knych at UC-Davis, with the goal of preventing the use of the psychostimulant ethylphenidate in racing horses.
AQHA past president and RMTC board member Dr Glenn Blodgett said the study came about because AQHA identified abuse of the drug, and the RMTC was capable of conducting tactical research of the drug in a timely manner.
Two other RMTC tactical research studies have recently received funding from The Jockey Club.
Selective Androgen Receptor Modulator LGD-4033 in the Horse was designed for the identification and detection of the SARM LGD-4033 in horse urine, blood and hair. SARMs are anabolic steroid-like substances that have no therapeutic use in the racing horse. They are generally administered to improve performance and affect the outcome of a race.
Improved Detection of Erythropoiesis-Stimulating Agents has focused on screening methodology for blood doping in the horse. Currently, there is a very limited window of time for detecting the administration of EPO-stimulating agents. This project will allow more sensitive screening, with a goal of increasing the ability of laboratories to detect these substances tenfold.
“Substances that have no therapeutic use in Thoroughbred racehorses are a real and immediate threat to our sport,” said James L. Gagliano, president and chief operating officer of The Jockey Club.
“The Jockey Club is proud to support research funded by the RMTC’s Tactical Research Grant Program to help detect such substances.”
The RMTC’s Scientific Advisory Committee recently distributed a request for next research proposals to veterinary schools across the world. Areas of special interest for future studies include bisphosphonates in horses in racing and race training, performance-enhancing or performance-modifying substances, and emerging substances with potential health, welfare and/or integrity hazards.
The RMTC consists of 23 racing industry stakeholders and organizations representing Thoroughbred, Standardbred, Quarter Horse and Arabian racing. The organization works to develop and promote uniform rules, policies and testing standards at the national level; coordinate research and educational programs that seek to ensure the integrity of racing and the health and welfare of racehorses and participants; and protect the interests of the racing public.