Earlier this week the Racing Medication & Testing Consortium (RMTC) issued a press statement noting its release of two position papers which stated that no physiologic difference among the various racing breeds exists to justify changing regulatory thresholds from those recently established by RMTC for the use of corticosteroids and clenbuterol. US Trotting Association president Phil Langley has now written a letter which addresses the RMTC press release, and specifically its use of the word "liberal" to characterize the USTA's position on corticosteroids and clenbuterol.
The RMTC press release stated that the recommendations were made by a panel comprised of laboratory directors, veterinary pharmacologists, practicing veterinarians, regulatory veterinarians, and veterinary surgeons with extensive experience in Thoroughbred, Standardbred, Quarter Horse and Arabian racing. The press release stated, "The panel was established by the RMTC in response to a request by the United States Trotting Association (USTA) at the September 2013 RMTC board meeting to establish more liberal thresholds for the use of intra-articular corticosteroids and clenbuterol in the Standardbred breed."
Below is Langley's letter to RMTC chairman Alex Waldorp:
December 6, 2013
Mr. Alex Waldrop, Chairman
Racing Medication & Technology Consortium
c/o National Thoroughbred Racing Association
2525 Harrodsburg Road, Suite 510
Lexington, KY 40504
Your press release describing the United States Trotting Association's request at the Denver meeting is at best a misunderstanding and at worst very deceptive and misleading.
Dr. Benson and you knew full well what we asked for was for harness racing to continue to use clenbuterol and corticosteroids as it has for several years. There was no mention of more liberal usage and threshold levels. Plain and simple we asked for the status quo of the existing rules.
The changes proposed for these medications were solely fueled by Thoroughbred problems.
Clenbuterol has been used by harness horsemen and veterinarians as it was intended - post race as an aid to bronchial problems. RMTC's "proposed" regulations came about because the Thoroughbreds and Quarter Horses decided to misuse it in place of anabolic steroids. USTA did not request any liberalization of the existing rules. Your description of our request is misleading and self-serving for RMTC.
In fact, the new RMTC proposed rule for a 14-day withdrawal time effectively eliminates the limited therapeutic use for Standardbreds who often race on a weekly basis and actually encourages steroidal abuse in Thoroughbreds.
Testimony given at the most-recent RMTC meeting suggested that Thoroughbred and Quarter Horse horsemen are "stacking" the drug in order to use it as a substitute for anabolic steroids because they have significantly more time between races. The proposed rule will not eliminate the abuse of clenbuterol because Thoroughbreds can utilize a cycle of several weeks of intense treatment followed by 14 days off followed by several more weeks of intense treatment similar to the way that human athletes used steroids in cycles to avoid detection.
With regard to corticosteroids, our request was the same - status quo. It has not been unusual for veterinarians to administer some of the corticosteroid steroids therapeutically shortly after a race to help horses race to their ability a week later. This usage has been prescribed by qualified veterinarians and with the welfare of the horse being paramount.
Once again, your negative description of this practice is unwarranted. We certainly agree that Thoroughbreds need to be very careful in what they administer because history shows that breed of horse is very susceptible to catastrophic breakdowns. On the other hand, the history of harness horses shows no negative results from the current practices.
The issue is not that there is "no physiologic difference among the various racing breeds…to justify changing regulatory thresholds from those recently established by the Racing Medication & Testing Consortium (RMTC) for the use of corticosteroids and clenbuterol.”
The issue is the difference in the frequency in which the different breeds race, which dictates the need for different rules for proper use of these therapeutic medications.
We want no changes - no liberalization of rules - only to have our successful practices left alone.
What we really believe is the best answer is separate rules for each breed.
Phil Langley, President
United States Trotting Association