The RCI Board called for a minimum penalty of one year suspension and fines in excess of $10,000 for a first Zilpaterol hydrochloride (Zillmax) violation. A second violation would result in a three year suspension and a minimum fine of $25,000. A third positive would result in a five year suspension and a $50,000 fine.
"This drug has no business being in a horse, let alone a racehorse," RCI President Ed Martin said. "There are some who believe they can circumvent the restrictions on steroids by using Zilpaterol. This cannot be tolerated."
Zilpaterol hydrochloride is an adrenergic agonist drug licensed in Mexico and South Africa as a feed additive for cattle at slaughter age. Zilpaterol is a relatively new product and is manufactured by the same company that manufactures ractopamine.
"Neither of these drugs has any business being administered to a horse and certainly the presence of either substance in a horse can only be interpreted as a deliberate attempt to cheat by circumventing the current restrictions on anabolic steroids, as the effect is perceived to be similar," Martin said.
"Based on our review there is no documented medical reason for Zilpaterol hydrochloride to be administered to a horse and therefore if it is found there can be no other motive than a deliberate attempt to violate racing's medication rules," he continued.
The RCI Veterinary Pharmacology Subcommittee, chaired by Dr. Richard Sams, recommended that Zilpaterol be classified as a Class 3 substance based upon its pharmacology. The RCI Drug Testing Standards and Practices Committee concurred and the classification was formally adopted today by the RCI Board.
New Dimethyl Sulfoxide (DMSO) Guideline
In other action, the RCI Board adopted a recommendation from the Racing Medication and Testing Consortium to reclassify Dimethyl Sulfoxide (DMSO) as a Class 4 substance with a recommended a plasma threshold of 10 micrograms/ml, which would allow for its use as a topical leg paint but would not allow for the oral or intravenous administration of the drug.