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Aga Khan Calls For "Common Drug Policies"
The Aga Khan (who celebrated 50 years running his family racing & breeding interests in 2010) “has called on international regulatory authorities to abide by a common set of race-day drug-testing policies” that are “perfectly clear & transparent about what is or is not tolerated” reported racingpost.com. Addressing the “highest-ranking officials from around the world” at the International Federation Of Horseracing Authorities annual conference in Paris, he stressed that he “vigorously supported drug-free racing & a strong non-tolerance policy”. However, he added: “In the absence of standards which are clearly defined, known to all & equitably enforced, the drug-detection process loses its credibility & its effectiveness. A problem arises when control laboratories replace old research methods by sensitive new equipment or a refined process that identifies substances at much lower levels than before. Indeed, these new levels may have no impact on a horse's performance. The problem is vastly compounded when these changes are kept secret from the industry & trainers & veterinarians are unaware of new standards for judgement.” The Aga Khan declared bluntly: “Rigorous, reliable & competent scientific control has too often been lacking in our industry & situations have arisen, both in America & Europe, resulting in procedures which are unethical to owners, trainers & veterinarians, the very people whose skills must be mobilised to keep our activity clean.” He said his particular concern at present was the “spate of positive cases in France for the anti-inflammatory drug betamethasone” which had “highlighted the gulf between racing professionals & the regulatory laboratories”. He explained: “No laboratory has ever, to my knowledge, advised the thoroughbred world about the safe period for betamethasone use. In the absence of any direction, vets usually considered 14 days to be a completely safe margin.” However he said a vet (whose name he did not divulge) confided he had administered more than 3,000 fetlock injections over a 10-year period, respecting the 14-day safe period, and had had no positive identified. He summed up: “Today betamethasone positives are increasingly & inexplicably common. Leaving veterinarians & trainers to operate in an unclear scientific environment, where they & their owners bear the consequences, cannot be acceptable.”