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Call For Ont. Race-Day Medication Ban

Published: June 4, 2014 10:56 am ET

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The Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association (HBPA) of Ontario has announced that it is taking an industry lead by recommending and supporting a ban on the use of race day medication in Ontario.

The HBPA Board of Directors made the final decision after it being raised at an Ontario Racing Commission industry consultation meeting and further after reading and observing the waves of negative publicity in the USA on this issue.

“The horse racing industry, particularly horse people, continues to receive blame for not addressing the issue of administration of medications to our horses.” HBPA President Sue Leslie was quoted as saying via release. “Our customers rightly deserve to be confident that horses are racing clean on race day.”

Horsepeople know that legal therapeutic medication is used for the comfort and benefit of equine athletes, no different than therapeutic medications used by human beings to improve their quality of life.

The HBPA of Ontario release states that he public needs to have confidence that all race horses are treated ethically.

The HBPA of Ontario has said that it wants to send a clear, strong message to the public, legislators and to horse racing’s customers that the industry does not tolerate the use of illegal drugs and that the health and welfare our horses continues to be the top priority throughout the industry.

“HBPA’s in general have been facing harsh criticism by its members, legislators, members of the betting and general public for not taking action or for hindering the implementation of programs that could restore public confidence concerning the use of medication in our sport,” Leslie said. “The HBPA of Ontario Board has decided to step up and take the lead on this issue in the hope that other associations and jurisdictions will follow suit and support.”

The HBPA plans to submit its support of a race day ban to the ORC, the Province’s regulatory body. If implemented, the plan would prevent veterinarians from entering a horse’s stall on the day it is entered to race. The administration of the approved bleeding medication Lasix, which is administered on the day of a race by an ORC veterinarian, would still be permitted.

There are many questions and details procedurally that need to be discussed before it can be implemented and the process is expected to take a few months.

“We expect that the majority of the industry will be comfortable with the implementation of this new initiative,” said Leslie. “The health and welfare of the equine athlete and the concerns of the betting customer are our top priorities. We would hope that other associations in Ontario would offer their public support of the plan. The customer and the public demand it and our horses deserve it.”

(With files from the HBPA of Ontario)

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