Drug Policy Changes Grace & Transition Period

The North American Association of Racetrack Veterinarians (NAARV) has long advocated a formal “grace period” for certain initial violations resulting from a testing laboratory or testing method change as veterinarians adjust to a newly imposed change should it generate inadvertent positive test results leading to a violation.

While the committee has discussed this matter before, it takes on a new importance as US thoroughbred horsemen will soon face an entirely new anti-doping/medication control regulatory scheme implemented by the US Horseracing Integrity and Safety Authority and its yet to be chosen Enforcement Agency.

The HISA has indicated that they will begin enforcing drug rules for thoroughbred races in the United States January 1, 2023. While the proposed HISA rules in this area are undergoing modification, a significant change should be anticipated.

The question for commissions is the degree to which this transition should occur prior to January 1, 2023 and whether commissions may want to consider enforcing the new HISA requirements at the state level in an informal way in order to issue warnings to horsemen that may “trip the wire” so they can effectively adjust to the new regulatory scheme.

Currently grace periods are a matter of commission exercised prosecutorial discretion and there is no general guidance.

The committee should consider providing guidance to standardbred, quarter horse, and non-US thoroughbred commissions. The committee should also consider a HISA transition guidance for US state commissions.

The Drug Testing Standards and Practices Committee has not met in 2022, but events may require the Model Rules Committee to provide guidance to the Board on the concept of “Grace Periods”

The original submission by the NAARV is included for informational purposes.

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