The misuse of medication in the racing American Quarter Horse industry is a serious issue, and one that AQHA, with the support of horsemen and the racing industry alike, is working to address. This year, AQHA launched its Multiple Medication Violation System (MMVS), which is a system to address the common complaint that repeat violators of medication rules are not sufficiently punished for positive drug tests associated with horses they train or own.
The MMVS used as its model the Association of Racing Commissioners International’s (ARCI) model rules multiple violation system, which was introduced in 2013. The MMVS is based on a point system, similar to points on a drivers license, and sets penalties for horses, trainers and owners for positive drug tests associated with their horses. As its name indicates, MMVS penalties increase in severity as a horse, trainer or owner accumulates points and multiple offenses on their record. The MMVS is also designed to impose serious consequences for violators of medication rules involving Class 1, Class 2 or Category A drugs as defined by ARCI. The system is not intended to be a substitute for the current penalty systems used by racing jurisdictions.
Since January 1, 42 horses, 37 owners and 34 trainers have been penalized pursuant to the MMVS. This includes the suspension of six trainers (two for five years and two for life) and one owner (for life), as well as the suspension of the participation privileges of seven horses (four for a minimum of 150 days and three for a minimum of three years). The trainers, owners and horses penalized but not suspended were assessed MMVS points, the accumulation of which would ultimately result in their suspension. Prior to the January 1 application of the MMVS, AQHA suspended 37 trainers for medication violations occurring during 2012 and 2013.
MMVS point values and penalties are assessed depending on the ARCI classification and category of the drug made basis of the positive test. Per the MMVS, drug classifications fall into the three subsets listed below. The subsets are listed in order of severity with respect to the assessment of MMVS points and penalties (most severe listed first):
(1) Class 1, Class 2, and Category A drugs as defined by ARCI that are not on the ARCI controlled therapeutic list;
(2) Class 3, 4 or 5 substances as defined by ARCI that are not on the ARCI controlled therapeutic list; and
(3) Controlled therapeutic medications as defined and listed by ARCI (“Controlled Therapeutic Medications”);
MMVS points and penalties can affect the AQHA membership status of trainers and owners, and the participation status of horses. For example, a single violation involving a Class 1, Class 2 or Category A drug results in a minimum five-year suspension of the trainer and a minimum 150-day participation suspension of the horse.
Should a trainer be the subject of two violations involving such drugs, he/she would be permanently suspended by AQHA. Owners, a category of individuals who have historically only suffered disqualification of their horse as a result of a positive drug test, now face suspension of their membership and suspension of their horse’s participation privileges pursuant to the MMVS. Sale companies will be encouraged to publish points in the catalog or past-performance supplements for horses entered in the sale and in race training or of racing age. The full description of the MMVS can be found at www.aqharacing.com, on the Racing Medication and Welfare page.
“On one hand, these numbers are really good news: It shows that the industry is reporting the rulings and AQHA is able to track and suspend the most egregious and repeat violators,” said AQHA Executive Director of Racing Trey Buck. “On the other hand, some are not getting the message that we mean business – we are not messing around. This has got to stop. AQHA is going to do everything it can to work with the jurisdictions and racing organizations to rid our sport of these people.”
Members are encouraged to visit the Racing Medication and Welfare page to research horses or trainers that may be affected by these suspensions and MMVS penalties. They can also research trainers through the Jockey Club’s Thoroughbred Regulatory Rulings, which allows users to search through most regulatory rulings, including those for Quarter Horses.
AQHA News and information is a service of the American Quarter Horse Association. For more news and information, follow @AQHARacing on Twitter, watch the AQHA Racing Newscast and visit www.aqharacing.com.