SARATOGA SPRINGS, NY - Racing Commissioners International (RCI) voted today to create a penalty point system and “enhanced” suspensions for trainers with multiple medication violations, strengthening how racing regulators deal with repeat offenders.
The RCI Board, meeting in Saratoga Springs, voted to modify the Model Rules to create an enhanced penalty which would be added to the penalty for an underlying medication rule violation in those instances where the responsible trainer has repeatedly violated medication rules.
“This system is workable and will be a deterrent to those who consistently violate our medication rules,” said Duncan Patterson, current Chair of both RCI and the Delaware Thoroughbred Racing Commission.
The RCI Board also voted to require a 10-year suspension and a $100,000 fine for those found guilty of the administration of blood doping agents like EPO.
Under the point system, to be launched in 2014, violations of the medication rule for substances not included on the RCI Schedule of Controlled Therapeutic Substances would earn 1 to 6 points, depending on its official classification as determined by the potential to affect performance. Overages involving the 24 therapeutic medications included on the RCI schedule would earn half as many points, depending on classification.
Depending on the number of points amassed by a repeat offender, the enhanced penalty would be in the form of additional suspension days of between 30 and 360, which would be added to the underlying penalty.
The RCI system is modeled after a similar approach taken in U.S. federal sentencing guidelines.
Although regulatory violations will remain part of a licensee’s permanent record, points will be expunged after a period of time based upon the category of punishment deemed appropriate given the substance classification.
RCI President Ed Martin described Tuesday’s Model Rules Committee Meeting as “spirited” and noted that there were many regulators who supported the concept of applying points to all regulatory violations.
“I would anticipate that as this system is implemented there will be a desire to expand upon it,” Martin said, noting that all racing regulatory entities will expected to submit ruling violation data through a central portal into the RCI database which will track points and their expiration.
The Point System concept has been discussed for over two years and many variations have been proposed as to how it would work. “This has not been an easy project,” Martin said, noting that the efforts of various regulatory and industry committees and organizations have been critical in working through the issues.
Specifically, he cited the RCI Drug Testing Standards and Practices Committee, the RCI Regulatory Attorneys Committee, the Racing Medication and Testing Consortium (RMTC), the RMTC Penalty workgroup, the Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association, and The Jockey Club as helping to “tee up” the proposal that was considered and modified by the Model Rules Committee after lengthy debate and discussion.
RCI addressed a concern brought forward by the National HBPA concerning trainers who might be cited for multiple violations involving the same medication on the same day due to changes in testing protocols or equipment. The rule permits Judges, Stewards, or the Commission to consider those a single violation should the facts warrant that treatment.
“This is an important step toward creating an additional deterrent to those who deliberately violate our rules or are persistently sloppy in the administration of medications,” Martin said.
“Given the fact that we have created uniform thresholds for controlled therapeutic medications, determined a clear line when those medications should be stopped, and consistent lab standards for all are to follow, there should be no reason for the vast majority of honest trainers to ever come up against this rule. Some will, however, and we believe an enhanced penalty determined by points will be a deterrent to those who have viewed existing penalties as a cost of doing business. It is time for that attitude to stop,” he said.