Control of therapeutic substances in thoroughbred horseracing
In thoroughbred racing in Europe horses race free of any drugs, including medicines, on the day of the race. Horse Racing Authorities test for these drugs before and after races.
Drug infringements are not common and of these most not due to intentional malpractice, but are more likely to be caused by residues of normal therapeutic medication or dietary or environmental contamination. A review of 'positive findings' within Europe over the period 1993-1997 showed that for the 97,451 samples analysed, 431 (0.44%) were reported to contain prohibited substances. Of these, 332 contained drugs with market authorisation for use in the horse.
As a result, representatives from EHSLC countries in 1998 confirmed the need to limit the sensitivity of screening methods for certain therapeutic substances during post race analysis. This controls levels of medications on race days to levels that are considered to have no therapeutic effect whilst continuing to look for evidence of exposure to drugs whose use is unacceptable in horseracing.
The key activity of the EHSLC is the determination and publication of Detection Times (the length of time that was actually observed, in experimental studies by the EHLSC in 6 to 10 horses, to have a negative drug test; a fuller scientific definition is also available) corresponding to these agreed levels and thus allow practicing veterinarians to recommend a withdrawal time (which should be recommended by a Veterinarian , is the length of time a drug must be withdrawn in a given horse in order to avoid a positive test and should always be longer than the detection time released by the EHSLC; a fuller scientific definition is also available) so as to combine reasonable assurance of drug free racing and the application of good veterinary practice in the use of the therapeutic substances to treat thoroughbred horses.