Eric Mitchell, editorial director and editor-in-chief of The Blood-Horse, shares his thoughts on the U.S. Trotting Association’s recent exit from the Racing Medication and Testing Consortium.

The U.S. horse racing industry is yet again waving a big flag emblazoned with: “We cannot regulate ourselves.”

On the verge of significant progress toward uniform medication rules and a stronger penalty system, the rug keeps getting pulled out from underneath. The recent blind side came from the U.S. Trotting Association (USTA), which announced an immediate exit from the Racing Medication and Testing Consortium (RMTC) over proposed withdrawal times for clenbuterol and corticosteroids. 

“In effect, the proposals took the use of those therapeutics away from Standardbred horsemen while not at all impacting the ability of Thoroughbred horsemen to employ the medications,” stated USTA president Phil Langley in a Sept. 27 letter to the Association of Racing Commissioners International (RCI).

What made the announcement so surprising is the USTA has made a significant contribution of time and money toward the RMTC, having been a member for 10 years and contributed more than $1 million. During the past decade the USTA has been involved in all the scientific reviews and debates that have shaped the proposed national model rules. According to RCI president Ed Martin, the RMTC includes regulatory advisers, as well, who are actively involved in the monitoring and e