On the Medication FrontW.B. Rogers Beasley - Director of Racing, Keeneland Association
Equine Drug Research Institute: One Year Later
Ogden Mills Phipps: In this room a year ago we announced the creation and launch of the Equine Drug Research Institute (EDRI), a committee of the Grayson-Jockey Club Research Foundation.
Dr. Don Catlin, who made a presentation here last year, is back in his lab at UCLA, but Rogers Beasley, who has been spearheading this initiative, is here to give us an update on EDRI's activities over the past 12 months.
Rogers Beasley: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Good morning, ladies and gentlemen.
One year ago, at this very meeting, Mr. Phipps announced the formation of the Equine Drug Research Institute as a committee within the Grayson-Jockey Club Research Foundation.
"The mission of the Equine Drug Research Institute is to fund a major research initiative designed to develop new tests for drugs that pose significant risk of potential abuse in equine sports, and to share that forthcoming data with qualified equine testing laboratories free of charge, to assure a fair and level playing field for all participants."
At the same meeting, Mr. Phipps announced that EDRI would seek to raise $3 million over a three-year period to fund this research, and the world-renowned drug researcher Dr. Don Catlin, who spoke at this meeting last year, would spearhead the scientific effort.
We are very pleased to report that the lab, located in Los Angeles, is now open and fully staffed with a truly gifted and highly experienced group of scientists already hard at work, and thanks to Mr. Farish, chairman of our fundraising committee, we are very close to our goal.
You will see on the screen behind me a series of images showing the new EDRI lab, scientific equipment, EDRI scientists and Dr. Catlin.
EDRI has formed a Scientific Advisory Panel comprised of three prominent equine lab directors, a vice president and researcher from a leading human biotech pharmaceutical company, a leading veterinary researcher and past president of the AAEP, a prominent veterinarian and longtime Thoroughbred racing official, the EDRI executive director, and Dr. Don Catlin.
The Scientific Advisory Panel has intentionally been kept small to facilitate meetings, and in no way is designed to exclude any of the many dedicated and capable equine researchers and regulators. In fact, other lab directors will be asked to join us in the near future.
The Scientific Advisory Panel recently finalized recommendations for the first year research projects. EDRI was specifically asked by the equine testing lab directors to begin work immediately in the area of Proteomics, along with previously agreed upon research. The plan initially had called for this work to begin in year two.
Proteomics, or the science of proteins in the body with a role in physiology or pathology, includes the challenges of detecting drugs that are proteins. This group includes, but is not limited to, the blood-doping agents EPO and Darbepoetin. Additionally, EDRI has also begun work in a number of other areas. This is a large project and shall proceed in two phases. We are hopeful that the first phase will have initial results later this year. The second, and more complex component, will take two years for completion.
We want to thank the members of the Scientific Advisory Panel for volunteering their time and hard work to guarantee that EDRI gets off to a great start.
EDRI intends to always remain receptive and responsive to the equine drug testing community and able to adopt research strategy so as to maximize its contribution to the equine labs that it is designed to serve.
Our equine testing labs across the country are comprised of dedicated and well-trained scientists that need our full support. This is the first time that human and equine drug testing laboratories have joined forces in such a well-financed research project. Combining equine and human sport testing experts has the promise to yield the greatest scientific accomplishments.
On that note, today we are pleased to announce that Major League Baseball, a large pharmaceutical company, and the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) have agreed recently to provide large grants to Dr. Catlin that will allow for an additional purchase of over $1 million of state-of-the-art equipment. This additional equipment will be used, along with the other equipment provided by EDRI contributors, to develop tests for some very problematic drugs, and equine sports will benefit directly. Like racing, these other sports groups understand that this is a complex problem that requires a large collaborative effort.
For a change, racing is no longer on the front page regarding this issue; rather, cycling and baseball are leading the pack, with the Olympics, and track and field close behind. However, it will take only one incident of a drug positive in the Breeders' Cup, Kentucky Derby or other major race for racing to quickly take the unwanted lead over the other sports just mentioned.
Remember too that racing is the only sport that permits pari-mutuel wagering on the outcome of its races. Drug testing must remain at the top of our agenda at all times. Reliable tests must be developed that stop the cheaters while protecting our many honorable trainers from false positives. There is simply no more important issue in racing. The Racing Medication and Testing Consortium and the EDRI effort are needed as complementary components in racing's war against illegal drugs.
The collaborative work that EDRI represents is a step in the right direction to ensure the level playing field that we all desire. We believe that a new day is dawning where racing will become a sport that other sports emulate because of its decisive steps to curb drug abuse. Dr. Catlin shares our feeling that all sports benefit from a collaborative and well-funded drug detection research program.
At this time, I would like to take this opportunity to thank the many EDRI contributors, many of whom are in this room. EDRI only exists because of the individuals that provide their financial support, and we encourage all of you in the audience to consider joining us in supporting EDRI.
Thank you very much.
Ogden Mills Phipps: As you well know, a lot of people do step up to the plate at these times but really we need broader support and we hope all of you will consider that.