Saturday, December 16, 2017

Dr Commissiong concerned about ‘false positives’

At last Friday’s meeting between the Trinidad and Tobago Racing Authority (TTRA) and the horse racing industry stakeholders, Dr Edward Commissiong, chairman of the Therapeutic Medication Threshold Committee said a number of false positives could have been reported.  

“I am saying this decision to go threshold levels was since January, and this is August,” Dr Commissiong declared. “As far as I am concerned, this should have been in place. The long delay has been causing headaches to a lot of people that are not guilty, because the samples could be below what was tested,” he said at the Racehorse Owners Association’s (ROA) room, Santa Rosa Park.

“If you look at the list (handed out to trainers and owners last Friday) it has levels, but they are operating under zero ‘tolerance’, and that is how they are operating now.”

He added that, “for some ten years, I have been fighting for threshold levels, and it was blocked by one member. I was so happy when the board took the decision in January to move to threshold levels, but, it still, as far as I am concerned does not exist, and we (TTRA) are applying a zero tolerance policy, and there isn’t anything like that in the Rules of Racing.”

 In his letter dated November 26, 2013, Dr Commissiong proposed a list of recommended therapeutic drugs to be forwarded to the TTRA’s board for their consideration for implementation, and suggested in the said letter, that it should be forwarded to the ROA and the Racehorse Trainers Association (RTA), and the practising veterinarians. The list was never dispatched. 

Dr Commissiong in his letter recommended that the TTRA should establish a screening committee, “the purpose being that the committee is to deliberate on all samples that return positive and recommend to the TTRA board the action to be taken.”

He further recommended that the committee should also have the responsibility to deal with cases where the medication is not on the threshold list, (and) make the appropriate recommendation to the Board.” 

TTRA  vice-chairman, Naresh Ramchandan, admitting to his inexperience in this field, defended the delay in implementation of the therapeutic list, claiming that he wanted to know what effect the drugs will have on the horses. However, he did not say whether Dr Commissiong’s recommendation for the committee to deal with positive samples will be established.

The genesis of threshold levels implementation started last year by a letter dated August 20, from Minister of Trade, Industry and Investment, Vasant Bharath directing TTRA chairman, Sunil Sirjoo to establish levels for therapeutic medication.

However, Minister Bharath’s directive was not adopted and the TTRA sought legal advice.