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Paulick Report: Recent Out of Competition Testing Commentary

Horse racing out of competition testingThis week's article by Natalie Voss at Paulick Report about the state of out of competition testing covered a lot of ground, particularly why this is not a standard practice in every racing jurisdiction.  Joe Gorajec, former executive director of the Indiana Horse Racing Commission noted that "in Indiana it was a ‘no brainer.' We could not claim that we were regulating to the highest of standards and with the greatest level of integrity if we turned a blind eye to blood doping.” When asked what he thought may be stop states from testing he said, "It's likely either lack of funding or lack of will – or a combination of both." He went further, remarking that, “without OOCT, horsemen can cheat with impunity. This is a disservice to the sport and the betting public. The optics are horrible.”
 
The subject of Voss' article and Gorejec's susbsequent comments prompted a significant number of responses, the first of which was submitted by Barry Irwin:
 
The problem in stopping the criminal use of drugs in horse racing is a complete lack of will from any jurisdiction in North America. While out of competition testing is a major component in the fight against illegal substance administration, it has the same limitations in most instances as post-race drug testing, with the exception that EPO might be found in an unannounced visit to a barn that is using it at a training center or offsite stabling facility. Because of the unique properties of EPO, authorities just might get lucky in an out of competition test. But the central issue is that drug testing alone cannot catch those trainers who use designer drugs. The only enforcement technique that can possibly work is good old fashion police investigations. Once the investigators find an illegal substance, a test can be created that can be used to catch future users of the designer drug captured by a successful investigation. As long as investigations are not being conducted in a serious manner, the cheaters are well aware that they can administer their drugs without the fear of being caught. The BALCO drug scandal should provide a template for catching cheats. The simple lesson is that without evidence, no test can be developed that will aid testers in finding cheaters. Right now it does not take a genius to figure out which trainers are suspected of being the leading cheaters in the United States. If one requires any assistance, all they have to do is spend half an hour at any Southern California or New York track, sit in the grandstand and listen. Talk of who these cheaters are is rampant. Two of the three most often cited names of cheaters have one thing in common: patrons in places high enough to quash an investigation. Owners and trainers have three choices as I see it, as follows: a) we can bury our heads in the sand and hope to be among the lucky survivors of the 4 percent annual attrition rate; b) we can join the dark side and cheat in order to survive as long as possible; or c) we can find a way to get an independent organization that is immune to outside pressure to rein in the cheaters. That organization is USADA. If the horsemen's groups or TOBA or the AAEP finds the price too great to pay to have the Federal government more entrenched in their hobby, they must face the reality that our game is losing players both at the windows and the entry box every single day of the year. Recent results seen during the month of August at our nation's most important race meets have sounded alarm bells among the players both front side and back side. How long are owners and trainers and vets going to sit on the sidelines and watch the game so many of us love being high jacked by a group of crooks while those charged with policing the sport worry more about their government paychecks than doing the jobs they are paid for?  
 
We've quoted this comment in full because to us nothing is of greater importance to the sport worldwide, and perhaps especially here in North America (where virtually every horse races on Lasix), than the issue of animal welfare and drug free racing. We believe that integrity and drugs in the sport are a "do or die" issue for racing today.
 
 
 

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