Race Medication

We’ve shared Anelina and Yodeler’s vet records and wanted to share a guest post by Dr. Everett Macomber DVM.

Currently, horse racing is regulated at the state level. Horse racing at Emerald Downs is regulated by the Washington Horse Racing Commission.

Dr. Everett Macomber DVM was appointed to the Washington Horse Racing Commission and has been an integral part of adopting parts of the Model Rules proposed by The Jockey Club. Below he offers some clarification into the debate between federal oversight for horse racing in the form of USADA and current drug testing practices done at the state level.

Equine Race Medication 2014 by Dr. Everett Macomber DVM

The Washington Horse Racing Commission is actively re-evaluating its medication policy in an effort to be consistent with a national medication policy suggested by the national organization, Racing Commissioners International (RCI).

Some in congress have suggested that horse racing medication regulation be placed under the control of the US Anti -Doping Agency (USADA). This organization regulates medication policy and testing requirements for human sporting events. In 2013 they conducted 9,197 doping control tests with approximately 99.55% determined to have no adverse analytical finding.

USADA has a budget of approximately 14 million dollars per year of which 9 million dollars comes from the federal government for drug testing through the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy. Predicated on a budget of 14 Million divided by number of tests run, each test costs about $1,522.

The US horse racing industry in the year 2013 tested 340,932 biological samples with 99.65% of samples to have no vialative residue. Testing was done under the control of state racing commission jurisdiction and without tax payer subsidies.

It’s helpful to compare the regulatory performance of the two organizations;
This information was gleaned from the annual report of USADA and from official state racing commission records.

USADA                                Horse Racing

Drug Tests Performed Annually       8,500-9,100                            Over 340,000

Percent of Clear tests                             99.67%                                     99.6%

Testing Labs accredited to International Stds  Yes        Majority of Samples in  Acc. Labs

Narcotics allowed in competition       Yes, with approval                            No

Stimulants allowed in competition       Yes with approval                            No

Other substances allowed in competition      Yes, with approval               No

Therapeutic Meds allowed in competition    Yes, with approval       Only 1, Furosemide

Therapeutic disclosed to public               Never                                       Always

Researches emerging Threats             Yes          Yes, individually & through industry       consortium

We recognize that an infusion of funding may benefit the testing program, the USADA experience high- lites replicating the USADA level of expenditures would not necessarily result in more violations detected.


  • USADA program is much smaller than the program operated by State Racing Commissions.
  • USADA Labs are accredited to same ISO17025 standard as that met by racing labs testing the overwhelming majority of equine samples. (All racing labs are fully accredited, except Iowa and Louisiana. Texas and Michigan are currently in process of accreditation)
  • USADA spends considerably more on each sample tested to achieve comparable results.
  • The problems posed by cheaters using unknown substances or substances that cannot yet be detected and confirmed by a lab test affects all sports equally.
  • Exemptions allowed for athletes to compete under the influence of prohibited performance enhancing substances undisclosed to the public is not allowed in Horse racing.
  • Horse racing does not allow undisclosed metabolic compounds in the participant.
    The horse must be scratched or be subject to penalty if found in violation of medication rules.

If a horse requires medication that can affect performance, the horse is not allowed to compete as opposed to the human athlete with prior approval.

Horse racing tests for more substances and at deeper levels to ensure that drugs are not in the horse at levels that can influence performance and outcome.

There are redundant reviews to protect equine athletes and regulatory policy does not allow for undisclosed use of performance enhancing drugs.


If you’d like to learn more about the rules governing horse racing in the state of Washington, the Equine Medication Program is covered under WAC 260-70.

The following sections are covered in the Chapter:

WAC Sections

Definitions applicable to chapter 260-70 WAC.
Equine health and safety.
Veterinarians’ reports.
Prohibited practices.
Medication labeling.
Treatment restrictions.
All horses are subject to inspection.
Official veterinarian’s list.
Reporting to the test barn.
Sample collection.
Storage and shipment of split samples.
Medication restrictions.
Threshold levels.
Permitted medication.
Anti-ulcer medications.
Furosemide and bleeder lists.
Bicarbonate testing.
Uniform classification guidelines.
Alphabetical listing of all drugs, medications, and foreign substances.
Voiding track record.
Posterior digital neurectomy.
Postmortem examination.

If you have specific questions for Dr. Macomber, please leave them in the comments and we will forward to him for a response.

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