Notice on the use of Bisphosphonates Under the HISA Anti-Doping and Medication Control Program
In advance of the anticipated effective date of the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Authority’s (HISA) Anti-Doping and Medication Control (ADMC) Program on March 27, 2023, the Horseracing Integrity & Welfare Unit (HIWU) calls the Thoroughbred industry’s attention to regulations regarding the presence and use of bisphosphonates in Covered Horses.
Bisphosphonates are a class of medication prescribed for managing clinical signs associated with navicular syndrome in horses four years old or above. They also have a history of extra-label use in younger horses. Bisphosphonates may be detected in samples from treated horses for months to years after administration.
The ADMC Program regulations categorize bisphosphonates as a Banned Substance, meaning that they are prohibited from being administered to, or present in, Covered Horses at any time. Covered Horses that test positive for bisphosphonates under the ADMC Program are subject to lifetime ineligibility, and associated Covered Persons may incur an Anti-Doping Rule Violation.
Given the prolonged detection period for bisphosphonates and the fact that their use is permitted in other racing jurisdictions internationally:
HIWU will not pursue disciplinary action against Covered Horses or their associated Covered Person(s) for the presence of bisphosphonates if the Covered Person(s) can provide documentation (e.g., medical records or a positive test result) to HIWU of the administration or presence of bisphosphonates prior to the implementation date of the ADMC Program. In accordance with HISA’s requirements for Covered Horses, all medical records, including any relevant test results, must be uploaded to the HISA portal. Additionally, due to the variability of bisphosphonate detection through laboratory analysis, all bisphosphonate findings detected under the ADMC Program will undergo thorough review regardless of the alleged timing of administration.
If owners or horsemen have concerns that their horses may have been administered bisphosphonates prior to March 27, including prior to a sale at public auction domestically or internationally, HISA and HIWU advise them to consider bisphosphonate screenings for these horses before the ADMC Program takes effect.
The Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act does not enable HISA’s ADMC Program to be enforced retroactively for actions occurring prior to its implementation. The detection of administrations from prior to March 27 that violate respective state rules in effect during that time period will be referred to the relevant state regulatory authorities.
While bisphosphonates continue to be permitted in Thoroughbred racehorses in international jurisdictions, any Covered Horse proven to have been administered bisphosphonates after the March 27th implementation date will be subject to lifetime ineligibility, and associated Covered Persons may incur an Anti-Doping Rule Violation.
For questions about the use of bisphosphonates and other substances on the ADMC Prohibited List, stakeholders are encouraged to reach out to HIWU Chief of Science Dr. Mary Scollay at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Horseracing Integrity & Welfare Unit (HIWU) was established in 2022 by Drug Free Sport International to administer the rules and enforcement mechanisms of the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Authority’s (HISA) Anti-Doping and Medication Control (ADMC) Program. The ADMC Program will create a centralized testing and results management process and apply uniform penalties for violations efficiently and consistently across all American Thoroughbred racing jurisdictions that HISA governs. HIWU will oversee testing, educate stakeholders on the new program, accredit laboratories, investigate potential violations, and prosecute any such violations. For more information, please visit hiwu.org.
Contact: Alexa Ravit, Director of Communications & Outreach