Industry Guidance

Assistance with the therapeutic treatment of horses
The racehorse is a hard-working athlete which will experience health complications and conditions of injury during its racing life. As the welfare of the horse is important the NHA has a responsibility to assist with therapeutic drug substance administration guidance (in providing therapeutic substance detection times - in order to assist with therapeutic substance treatment regimens). The NHA must however ensure that the welfare of the horse is maintained in that substances which affect the horse are not present at therapeutic levels on race day as these can influence race performance and / or mask injury and pain.

International and Asian Screening Limits for therapeutic substances
It is important not to prosecute therapeutic substances, which are legitimately used in equine medicine, at low levels where these do not affect the horse. International and Asian Screening Limits (ISL’s and ASL’s) for therapeutic substances provide such guidance. These screening limits are concentration values which are internationally decided. Below these limits (concentrations) there is no therapeutic effect and therefore a positive finding is not declared. Compliance of the NHA to these is important to ensure that a sensible, internationally approved standard is applied.
Substances which have the possibility to be present in residue levels in equine feed (known as feed contaminants) are also considered. International residue limits (IRL’s) are adopted by the NHA to prosecute findings of such substances when these exceed background levels and are indicative of exogenous administration. The ISL’s, ASL’s and IRL’s which are adopted by the NHA are provided on the NHA website.

The NHA and IFHA websites provide a list of Detection Times for therapeutic substances. While the screening limits provide Laboratories with an action level for positive findings, a “detection time” is the time period following administration during which the screening limit is still exceeded. A withdrawal time which is a suitably a longer period of time is advised (e.g. more than 2 days longer), at the discretion of the advising veterinarian. This guidance is provided on the NHA website.

The NHA and IFHA prohibited substance Thresholds
Substances must not be prosecuted at levels where these could be found naturally in the horse, its feed or its environment. International, official threshold values are in place for such substances. A positive finding is only declared when the relevant threshold level is proved to be exceeded in the specimens. An accurate quantification of the concentration is conducted to provide an actual level. This result and process is shown as part of the positive finding report. The international prohibited substance thresholds which are adopted by the NHA are provided on this website.

Guideline for the Classification of Prohibited Substances and Penalties
Different prohibited substances have different effects (of different severity) on the horse, its welfare and have an impact on horseracing. Findings of these different substances must therefore have different prosecution severity (classification) and penalty. This classification guideline explains prohibited substances classes 1 to 5, with class 1 being most severe and inclusive of forbidden substances. Also included in this document is a list of the local veterinary and human substances considered most prevalent for equine treatment in horseracing in South Africa, and some clarification and guidance. This Guideline for the Classification of Prohibited Substances and Penalties document of the NHA is provided on this website.

Forbidden substances
These are substances which are internationally defined as “substances which have no place in the racehorse at any time”.  In this respect the NHA is highly aligned to IFHA guidance. These are Class 1 substances with high penalties and are substances which are not easy to source. Forbidden substances are explained in Rule 74 of the NHA and these are defined / listed in the NHA Rules as Appendix M.

Substances which are not prohibited (Exempted)
There is a range of substances which are medications important for the treatment of medical conditions in horses which do not affect the performance of the racehorse. These are not prohibited substances and included substances such as antibiotics (antimicrobials), anti-parasitic, anti-viral, anti-fungal medication and registered vaccines against infectious agents in horses. This list of Exempted substances is provided within Appendix N of the NHA Rules.

Rider Banned Substances Guidelines document

The purpose of this document is to provide an important reference to riders, Stipendiary Stewards and rider Sample Collectors regarding the type of substances which are banned to be present in riders on race days. Especially important is the guidance on the use of therapeutic and especially pain medications (some which result in morphine to be released) and recommended withdrawal periods. This is very important as some could result in positive findings of banned substances. The NHA website provides this Rider Banned Substances Guidelines document.