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Tuesday, April 19, 2011

NHBPA Says Go Slow

And people think harness racing is the only racing sport with chemists. According to the Paulick Report, the National HBPA is encouraging the NTRA to go slow with supporting RCI's plan to require horses to race on hay and water by banning race day medication,  They cite statistics that show a small. number of trainers have been caught in violation of race day medication rules and the whole movement to ban race day medication is window dressing on a problem that simply doesn't exist.  They also worry about the impact on horses that bleed; what will happen to them?  The NHBPA also argues that the RCI plan insinuates that all the trainers cheat.  As we all know, there are no trainers that cheat.

And Pigs Fly

For sure there are honest trainers, but what the NHBPA statistics show are the overwhelming number of trainers being honest when looking at the known medications there is testing for.  We all know the medication tests are for drugs we know that exist.  The problem is trainers don't attempt to cheat by using drugs there are tests for; if they are inclined to cheat, they will use medications for which there are no tests developed.

They also argue about zero tolerance and environmental contamination. Zero tolerance testing clearly can't work because just being in certain situations will cause a horse to come up with some positives.  Zero tolerance will implicate trainers and result in horses being disqualified needlessly.

In harness racing, I am sure if there was a national HBPA agency, we would hear the same arguments so let's address the arguments here. 

All trainers are honest. To use one of Joe Faraldo's favorite expressions, "All trainers are honest, My Aunt Tilly".  Those trainers who cheat are not stupid enough to use medications where tests to detect exist.  If they have any brains, and trainers are pretty smart, one predisposed to cheating is going to use the latest and greatest boutique medications out there; ones for which no test has been developed.

What about horses who suffer from exercise induced bleeding?  How do they handle bleeders in Europe, Asia and around the world?  Somehow they seem to be managing without anti-bleeding medications so there is no reason we can't.  However, as an assistance to North American trainers, I propose we invite and pay for some renowned European trainers to come to North America and teach courses to trainers on how to train horses without the use of anti-bleeding medications so they will be informed when the ban comes into being.  Teach them some new training methods and we are likely to reduce the number of horses that suffer from EPH or at least control the problem.

I do agree zero tolerance is a myth.  There is some natural contamination which occurs.   However, I have a solution for that.  Ever see your own lab results?  Well, you see for each test there is not just one number which is considered normal; there is a range.  Let's study some horses over the next five years and develop  ranges so when horses are given post-race blood tests, we can compare a specific horse's readings against a range which includes the possibility of environmental contamination.  As long as the blood test comes back normal within the range there is no problem.

However, rather than constantly trying to develop new tests for the designer drugs in order to determine a disqualification, let's pull blood and assume a horse that has readings on certain tests outside of the specified ranges to be in violation of medication rules.  This way we don't necessarily need to know which medication is the offender.  As always, we will test the split sample and if a trainer still maintains their innocence, we can quarantine the horse for a period of time and if a horse still exceeds the range, the horse will be considered clean and the acceptable range for the specific test will be adjusted for the horse.

It would be interesting if such an approach was taken to see how many of our super trainers would still be 'super'?  Then we can quote how many of our trainers are honest as many of the cheats will no longer be in the sport..

If the majority of the world follows such standards, there is no reason why we can't.  It is not that five years is to quick, we are five years too late in adopting such standards.  Maybe we wouldn't be in such a pickle as we are right now if we adopted such standards a long time ago.

New Poll:  So do you think the Meadowlands will still be saved?  With the last poll 2/3rd said yes.  After Local 173's vote, what do you think now?  The poll is on the top.

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