The USPA began their medication testing program in 2011. The program was initially based off of the testing program used by the United States Equestrian Federation (USEF) and used the USEF Testing Veterinarians to collect samples as well as the USEF Laboratory to process samples. In 2018, the USPA Board made the decision to switch the program to an internally run program, with all samples being tested through an independent laboratory. At that time the Equine Drugs and Medications Rules were reviewed and revised. The biggest change to the rules was in the actual process of testing.
Who can be tested?
Any Event (USPA Event, Club Event or USPA-Supported Activity) can be selected for testing. Once an Event is selected, all players participating are subject to having their horses tested.
Who is responsible?
Both the Owner and Player are defined as the “Responsible Party” in regard to the USPA Equine Drugs and Medications Rules. This means that even if you lease a horse, you could be held responsible for a positive test.
How does testing work?
The USPA designates one or two licensed veterinarian(s) to take samples from horses being played in the Event selected. An hour prior to the game, a USPA Representative, the Sampling Veterinarian(s) and technician(s) will meet with the teams and explain the testing process and answer any questions. After the meeting, the USPA Representative will randomly select which players’ horse(s) will be tested.
At least one horse will be selected from each period of the game. It is required that a minimum of eight horses be selected in a six-period game and a minimum of six horses will be selected from a four-period game.
The USPA does reserve the right to choose a specific horse or horses, such as a lame or injured horse, in addition to the randomly selected horses, if desired. Then, during the game, the Sampling Veterinarian(s) and their technician(s) will identify those horses by taking photos and written descriptions. They also inform the groom that the selected horse will need to be brought to the specified testing location after the game.
At the end of the game, all horses selected are required to come to the testing location to have three vials of blood collected. The tubes are then marked with a pre-printed barcode and sample number that corresponds to the paperwork. The owner, player or a designated representative must accompany the horse and sign as a witness to the sample collection.
How long does it take to get results?
Results typically take less than two weeks. Samples are sent to the laboratory as soon as possible after they are collected. Samples are packed in a locked cooler and shipped to the laboratory. Once received, they are unpacked and tested. If a positive test occurs, the laboratory alerts the USPA. The USPA then contacts the owner and player charged with the violation.
It is important to know that the person who brings the horse over to the designated testing area will be the one signing as witness to the testing process. This person can be the player, owner groom or any individual trusted by the owner and player to act as witness.
Are some medications allowed?
Yes, players should review the USPA Equine Drugs and Medications Rules to see the Permitted and Restricted Medications lists. Permitted Medications are allowed at any time. Restricted Medications are only allowed up to a certain level and there is a chart in the rules which provides the latest administration hour that the medication can be given prior to a game. If a test shows a Restricted Medication as over the allowable blood level, it will be treated as a positive test.
Are some medications banned?
Yes, all medications that are not listed as Permitted or Restricted are prohibited. These types of medications include tranquilizers, anabolic steroids, corticosteroids without an approved Medication Report Form, antihistamines and respiratory drugs. As with the allowed medications, it is recommended that players review the USPA Equine Drugs and Medications Rules.
Therapeutic Drug Use
There are certain situations that allow for immediate medical attention within the 24-hour period leading up to a game. These include minor injuries, colic or other non-lameness related conditions. In the case one of these situations occurs, a licensed veterinarian can submit the USPA Medication Report Form to alert the USPA that they have administered certain medications which may then be present in a tested sample and verify that the horse is still in a safe condition for playing. The USPA Medication Report form is not a “free pass” and if a positive test occurs, it will be used in assessing whether or not a violation has occurred.
What is the consequence of a positive test?
A presumed violation may be appealed if the owner or Responsible Party feels there is some reason for error. The Responsible Party may request that the B Sample held at the lab be tested by either the USPA Designated Lab or another qualified lab. If confirmed positive, the violation shall proceed under Disciplinary provisions, which includes a hearing, possible temporary suspension and a potential fine.
It is also possible that the player be disqualified from any Association game or tournament. In the case that a member reaches their third violation, they will be expelled from the USPA either temporarily or permanently. Lastly, all violations, including findings, conclusions, rulings, recommendations and/or penalties, shall be published to the Member Clubs of the Association.
USPA EQUINE DRUGS & MEDICATIONS SUMMARY
1. Antibiotics, antiprotozoals
3. Hormonal therapies in mares (e.g. Regumate®, altrenogest)
4. Anti-Ulcer medications (e.g. Gastrogard®/ Ulcergard®, Cimetidine, Ranitidine)
5. Anti-arthritic medications (e.g. Adequan®, Legend®)
6. Navicular Syndrome management medications
Salicylic Acid (Aspirin)
Bisphosphonates (e.g. Tildren®, OsPhos®)
*Bisphosphonates are not to be used in horses under five years of age.
RESTRICTED USE MEDICATIONS
Nonsteroidal Anti-inflammatory (NSAID) *only one NSAID is permitted at a time *
Flunixin Meglumine (Banamine®)
Meclofenamic Acid (Arquel®)
*These corticosteroids require submission of a USPA Medication Report Form according to Rule 4.4
PROHIBITED DRUGS AND SUBSTANCES
**All medications not specifically permitted or restricted by these Rules are considered prohibited – Rule 3.1
Examples of common prohibited substances are listed below**
Long-acting Tranquilizers and Psychotropics
Short-acting Tranquilizers and Sedatives
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs
2 or more at once prohibited