North Dakota approves regulations for horse doping
FARGO, N.D. (AP) — The North Dakota Racing Commission has approved medication rules and penalty guidelines recommended by a national group seeking uniform standards for horse doping.
The commission is backing a plan endorsed by the Association of Racing Commissioners International, or RCI. It has regulations for 26 therapeutic medications allowed to be administered to horses in certain dosages, and a strict penalty system based on points.
Gunner laCour, the state racing director, said consistent regulations are important for the industry and some people are worried the federal government will intervene if the industry fails to adopt uniform standards.
“Model medication rules are an integral part of creating a stronger racing industry in both our state and the country as a whole,” laCour said.
The problem of performance-enhancing drug use in horse racing has received increased attention in recent years. Racing officials have said it’s important to draw a distinction between therapeutic medications and banned substances so horsemen aren’t punished for drugs a horse might need.
“If you actually went by our old rules, all of these legitimate therapeutic medications, if there was any of it in their system, that would cause a violation,” laCour said. “That’s obviously not the best way to do things because some horses have legitimate issues that need to be taken care of.”
The RCI system sets thresholds for each drug, down to how many nanograms per milliliter can be administered to a horse.
“If your horse needs more than that, your horse probably shouldn’t be running,” laCour said.
Larry Eliason, executive director of the South Dakota Commission on Gaming, said his state generally follows the RCI guidelines for horse doping, especially when it comes to determining penalties for violations.
“We have not had a case here for several years involving a prohibitive substance, so we have not had to impose a penalty,” Eliason said.
North Dakota has live horse racing at two tracks, in Fargo and Belcourt. LaCour said even though it’s a small jurisdiction for live racing, every member of the racing industry should support rules meant for the welfare of horses.
“Let’s say horsemen come from South Dakota and come here. Well, if both of us have the RCI rules, then they know exactly what they have to do right off the bat,” laCour said. “But if one of us isn’t doing that, they’re going to have to determine what the rules are every time they move from state to state. That becomes very difficult for them.”