Ogden Mills Phipps:
I think we now know why the NFL is doing so well. As chairman of the Thoroughbred Safety Committee, Stuart Janney closely monitors the industry's progress on medication reform.†He's going to provide you today with an update.
Stuart S. Janney III:
Thank you. Iíd also like to thank Brian for being part of the Round Table Conference and for a very interesting and relevant talk. Thoroughbred racing lacks the centralization and consolidated authority of the NFL, so as we aspire to similar goals, we face great challenges. I think everyone in this room can agree on our goals.
In fact, in one sense, Brian has articulated them. It starts with the safety and integrity of our races which leads to a better perception of our sport. This is the foundation on which we can build our own fan base and our betting customers, track sponsors and grow the sport.
In our view, none of these things can happen without the reform of our medication practices, policies and penalties. Our polling has shown that only 22% of the general public has a positive impression of Thoroughbred racing, and that eight out of ten bettors consider the influence of illegal drug use when betting at certain tracks. Their sentiments are very unsettling.
A year ago, Dinny Phipps stated in his closing remarks that the Jockey Club would support appropriate means of achieving uniformity and reform, and The Jockey Club might lend its support to federal legislation if the current medication reform effort stalled.
In late March, he reiterated those sentiments saying if the major racing states had not implemented these reforms, The Jockey Club would reach out to federal lawmakers. Let me now present our view of what constitutes uniformity. There are three elements. First, a uniform code of what drugs can and cannot be used, in what quantities and when.
Second, penalties for violations and how repeat offenders are treated needs to be uniform.
When I say itís relatively easy to know where you are on the road to these goals, I donít in any way suggest they are easily accomplished. The third element, which is equally challenging and important, is harder to measure in terms of our progress. We must have similar methods of application and resources to detect violations. That requires us to peer under the hood for which we needed and got the help of McKinsey.
So with all this in mind, how far have we come toward a national uniform medication program? One, each jurisdiction shall implement a two‑tiered drug classification system including controlled therapeutic medications and prohibited substances, with regulatory thresholds and withdrawal guidelines provided for each of the 26 controlled therapeutic medications. Today, nine of the 38 racing states have fully implemented rules to that effect, four more are likely to implement them by the end of 2014, and eight states have begun rule making. That appears to present a best‑case scenario of 50% by the end of next year, 2015.
Any administration of furosemide on race day shall be administered solely by veterinarians designated by the local regulatory authority. Today, 12 of 38 states have adopted this practice.
Three, all equine drug testing facilities shall earn accreditation that meets the recently enacted Racing Medication and Testing Consortium Code of Standards for drug testing laboratories. Five labs covering racing in 21 states have been fully accredited by the RMTC.
Four, state racing commissions shall adopt the new RCI penalty guidelines for multiple medication violations. As of now, six of 38 states have adopted this.
The bottom line is that five states - Delaware, Indiana, Massachusetts, North†Dakota and Virginia - have adopted all four phases of the program. Absent are the states which are generally considered to be major racing states.
There are those who look at these numbers and believe that given enough time our industry will achieve uniformity, and that uniformity is just around the corner. I wish I did. Weíre better than before, but it would be a stretch to call it uniformity. Nevertheless, I count myself as an optimist in this industry. To some extent, I guess I draw inspiration from what other sports have done ranging from the NFL, which weíve heard about today, to of course, the Olympics and cycling. We are now where others have been, and we need to go to where they are.
Two weeks ago, Tour de France winner Vincenzo Nibali said the following:
"Steps have been taken and great progress has been made. I have to thank them." He was referring to doping controllers. "Öbecause without these iron controls, maybe I wouldnít be here today."
It would be very nice to hear comments like that from owners, trainers and jockeys standing triumphantly in our winnerís circles.
Earlier today, we heard an objective, fact‑filled report from Dan Singer of McKinsey. He told us that our drug testing and enforcement policies and practices are wildly inconsistent, and that we stand in stark contrast to Thoroughbred racing in the rest of the world and to other sports. We collect too few out‑of‑competition testing samples and we donít test deeply enough. We lack uniformity in testing methods in the number of drugs tested and in lab procurement practices.
Research to identify new performance‑enhancing drugs is insufficiently coordinated and falls below the scale of international racing jurisdictions or other sports that pool research funding. Yet, four days ago we heard a very different perspective in a press release from the president of the Association of Racing Commissioners International, which, in my opinion, took a quantity over quality approach. They said that 99.65% of the samples tested in 2013 showed no violation of the rules. Of 1,140 medication rule violations, 1.2% were for Class‑1 doping substances, and that 60% were for overages of Class‑4 and 5 substances that were considered therapeutic overages.
At a complete contradiction to what McKinsey has told us today, they assert that the tests are comparable to what the Olympic standard is. Well, I will simply ask you to be the judge. If the RCI is right, we can begin the celebration now. We have no further work to do. But if the research and findings from this latest McKinsey study are indeed an accurate portrayal of our landscape today, we have a lot of work ahead of us. Are 99.65% of these tests clean because there isnít any cheating, or are they clean because the testing isnít sufficient or the timing too obvious? I wonder how these numbers would change if testing was conducted under the stricter medication rules that are in place in the vast majority of international racing jurisdictions, which are rules that are modeled after the WADA standard.
The key to detection that any student of the drug testing wars will tell you lies squarely in the quality of the labs and the tests they conduct. Iíve bred and owned and raced Thoroughbreds for many years. I know which scenario seems accurate to me. As the chairman further articulates the view of The Jockey Club, I donít anticipate he will announce that our job is done. Thank you.