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Re: Drug Policy

Innocent until proven guilty...I believe that is SUPPOSED to be the American

K S Swigart wrote:

> On Tue, 28 Jul 1998, Nancy Mitts wrote:
> > I am in favor of keeping the zero tolerance, and letting the protest
> > committee decide the penalty depending on the amount of drug actually
> > found. Allowing a certain level is opening Pandora's box. Where would
> > you set the limit? If .05 of something is okay, what about the horse who
> > tests .055? Or .058? but then where do you stop? It's best left alone.
> I can't agree with this.  I, like Kris, agree that drugging horses to
> enhance their performance or to mask their pathologies or to alter their
> performance is not for endurance.
> However, with the current state of drug testing (and getting better all
> the time), the results, if you don't have some break off other than zero,
> become totally meaningless.
> This is just off the cuff, but my preference would be to change the drug
> policy to shift the burden of proof to the AERC rather than having a zero
> tolerance (I must confess that I don't believe in zero tolerance for
> anything) policy which assumes that anybody who has even the minutest
> positive test is guilty of infraction of the "horses must compete on their
> natural ability" aspect of rule 13 (which is, after all, the stated intent
> of the rule), that the veterinary committee (or whoever) must demonstrate
> that the amounts of drugs present in the horse actually could have some
> effect.
> In this manner, the AERC is not required to IN ADVANCE decide what are
> therapeutic levels for all drugs (as each becomes available) as this would
> at best be unwieldly and at worst impossible, but rather it can decide on
> a case by case basis using current medical knowledge.  It then becomes the
> responsiblity of the AERC to prove that the equine was "influenced by any
> drug, medication or veterinary treatment."  Rather than assuming any
> positive drug test proves this.  The state of drug testing technology
> today is such that a positive drug test, without taking into consideration
> the levels found, is TOTALLY meaningless.
> I would like for the policy to be that riders and their horses are
> presumed to be competing on their own natural ability and that it is up to
> the officials to demonstrate that the performance was influenced by drugs,
> and any positive drug test is not sufficient to demonstrate this.
> I think that I feel fairly strongly about this, since I would hate for
> horses to not receive the medical care that they need because a rider
> would like to be able to compete on the horse next year (yes, drug testing
> technology is coming to that level).  I also would not like to have
> competitors disqualified because their horse grazed on a leaf of some
> forbidden substance along the trail (or...god forbid...the hay that
> management provided at the vet checks contained a weed that would cause a
> positive drug test...and yes, the technology exists for this too).
> As far as I am concerned, the only reason that the AERC drug policy as
> written and understood has not caused untold unfairness is because nobody
> has bothered to try to implement it--at least, not the drug testing part
> of it.  If the AERC routinely tested all winners of all endurance rides
> (and one random horse) as is done in sprint racing, the total
> unworkability of the current rule would have come to light.
> Don't get me wrong, I LIKE the "no drugs" rule.  I DO think that endurance
> horses should compete without being influenced by drugs (unlike sprint
> racing and show horses who have "permissible substances" even at
> therapeutic levels); but I am NOT in favor of having a policy that
> disquaifies competitors whose horses were not influenced by drugs just
> because the technology exists to detect the minutest traces of a myriad of
> substances.
> Nor am I in favor of a policy that would require competitors to prove that
> their horses were not influenced by the trace amounts of drugs found in a
> test.
> One could, of course, reduce the argument to the absurd, by stating that
> the penicillan you gave to your horse last year did effect his performance
> today, because if you hadn't given it to him to treat his pneumonia he
> would either have died (in which case he would not have done as well in
> the ride, being dead) or he would have suffered irreparable lung damage
> (in which case he would not have done as well in the ride).  So yes, the
> drugs you gave your horse last year DID influence its performance, but I
> don't think that this is what rule 13 is talking about.
> However, all that said, the current rule reads (with regards to discovery
> of a positive drug test) in 13.1 (B):  "Presence of such medication or
> drug in an equine participating in an AERC sanctioned event shall be
> grounds for review by the Protest and Grievance committee with input of
> the Veterinary Committee."
> Further reading doesn't say to me that the rider must be disqualified,
> just that it is "grounds for review."  ANd I agree with this, a positive
> drug test IS grounds for review,...and if, after review, the Protest and
> Grievance committee with the input of the Veterinary committee decides
> that the test does not demonstrate that the horse was influenced by
> drugs...well then they can file that under "no action taken."  So, as long
> as the Protest and Grievance committee doesn't have a "zero tolerance"
> policy, the policy doesn't exist.
> The only thing that it says is grounds for immediate disqualification is
> refusal to comply with a request from an AERC approved vet to take a
> sample for the purpose of testing.
> kat
> Orange County, Calif.

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