On November 11, 2021, the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Authority (HISA) released a draft of its proposed equine anti-doping and medication control rules. The thoroughbred horse anti-doping rules were developed in cooperation with the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) and aim to centralize the patchwork of regulations currently covering the country's various racing jurisdictions.

The preliminary rules are open for public comment and were submitted to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) on December 6. If approved, they will take effect on July 1, 2022.

Here, we outline how the Proposed Equine Protocol and Prohibited List could affect thoroughbred horse racing events in the U.S.

Proposed Thoroughbred Horse Anti-Doping RulesTesting Protocol

Covered horses can be tested anywhere and at any time until they are permanently retired from racing. No advance notice is required.

Blood and urine samples form the backbone of the testing program, but hair samples and other matrix may be collected on an as-needed basis.

Primary substances, such as anabolic steroids and erythropoietin (EPO), are prohibited at all times. Secondary substances, such as anti-inflammatories and supplements, are banned on race day. Up to 48 hours before a race, horses must only receive hay, oats, and water.

Results Management Process

After a sample is collected and analyzed, any adverse analytical finding will be reviewed to determine if it is a major or minor infraction.

Upon receiving notice of the positive test, the responsible person and/or owner will have the right to pay for a B sample analysis. There may also be a provisional suspension issued at this stage of the process.

The responsible person has the right to challenge the finding. The procedure depends on whether the violation is deemed a major or minor infraction. For a major infraction involving a primary substance or method, there is an impartial arbitration with an in-person or virtual hearing. For a minor infraction involving a secondary substance or method, the appeal goes before an impartial anti-doping steward with written submissions only, but no hearing.

In all cases, there is the right to appeal either to an FTC administrative law judge or an independent commission.

Potential Sanctions

For a covered person, a positive test carries the following sanctions:

  • Primary substance. Up to two years for a first offense. Up to four years if there are aggravating circumstances or it is the second violation within 10 years. Up to a lifetime sanction if it is the third or subsequent violation within 10 years.
  • Secondary substance. Up to 30 days and a fine. Up to two years if there are aggravating circumstances or it is the fourth or more violation of this type within five years.

For a covered horse, a positive race day test leads to an automatic disqualification of results in the event connected to the race day test. Sanctions can be up to 14 months or life, depending on the substance or method.

Responsibility for Violations

Typically, the responsible person in the event of a positive test is the trainer. However, there are cases where the owner could be the responsible person.

The Responsible Person's degree of fault is considered in determining the proper sanction to impose when it comes to accidental contamination. In such cases, the sanction period may be shortened or eliminated altogether.

Questions About the Proposed Thoroughbred Horse Anti-Doping Rules?

If you have been accused of violating anti-doping rules or have questions about the proposed thoroughbred horse anti-doping rules that were recently released, it's crucial to speak with an anti-doping attorney as soon as possible. Contact us online or call us directly at +1-207-747-5899 to schedule a free consultation with one of our equine anti-doping lawyers

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