RCI Fails to Follow Through With Commission Compliance Certification

This story might have a familiar ring.

The Association of Racing Commissioners International (RCI) issues a press release.

Announces a new industry initiative.

Apparently does nothing as there is no public follow-up.

Industry yawns.


Let’s begin with an article from the Paulick Report on February 1, 2017, taken from an RCI press release.

“Three highly respected former racing regulators – Steve Barham (OR), Bennett Liebman (NY), and Allan Monat (IL) – will comprise the independent panel the ARCI has formed to certify compliance with key integrity standards each year.

Association of Racing Commissioners International Chair Judy Wagner made the appointments this week, noting that each of the appointees is totally independent of any racing interest or regulatory agency.

Under the program, the panel will report each year at the annual ARCI meeting whether jurisdictions are “Compliant”, “Substantially Compliant” or “Non Compliant” with select integrity standards embodied in the Model Rules. The standards may be expanded for subsequent years based upon recommendation of the panel to the ARCI Board each December.

For 2017, the standards are linked to four ARCI Model Rules that are often referred to as the National Uniform Medication Program (NUMP). These include implementation of the ARCI/RMTC Controlled Therapeutic Schedule; use of an RMTC accredited testing laboratory; adoption of the Multi-Medication Rule Violation point system; and the independent administration of race day furosemide for those trainers/owners opting to use it.”

I attempted to reach for comment two former RCI chairpersons. I wanted to ask them why nothing had become of the promised compliance certification. Neither Judy Wagner (LA), who made the committee appointments, nor Mark Lamberth (AK), who was the driving force behind the initiative, made themselves available for comment.

Looks like a gimmick

I recently spoke briefly to compliance committee member Allan Monat, who advised me that he was unaware of the status of the initiative and that his committee had last met “about a year ago.”

Back in February 2017, the same month the RCI announced its initiative, I wrote in the Thoroughbred Racing Commentary a column titled: Is the RCI’s new integrity compliance panel just another gimmick?

Two years have passed. It looks to me as if we have an answer. Ding, ding, ding!

It sure looks and smells like a gimmick!

Here is what I wrote back in 2017:

“The state-by-state status on each of these four issues is provided, and has been available for years, on the website of the Racing Medication and Testing Consortium (RMTC). Each state’s status is indicated by a color dot on a map of the U.S. on that site. (Below is a screenshot of that map.)

“So, the RCI has just appointed a panel of three experts to issue a report on information that any of us can access on our iPhones in three minutes.”

Yes, I wrote that. What you and I could do in three minutes the RCI has been unable to accomplish in the past two years.

No excuses

The RCI is no stranger to criticism. Most of this criticism has to do with its structure as a membership organization. It has no authority to act. Regulatory authority is granted to each individual state racing commission pursuant to state law.

RCI is most active nationally through its model rules, which is our industry’s attempt at uniformity. Rarely are the rules uniform, though. That is because each of these 30+ state racing commissions has to pass the same model rule for the industry to have true uniformity. Those of us in the business know that this seldom happens.

But this is not the case with RCI’s proposed compliance certification. This was an RCI initiative from start to finish. It does not require state-by-state adoption. The RCI can’t raise its hands in befuddlement and exclaim, “We did our best, but our independent commissioners wouldn’t go along.”

The RCI owns this failure.

The industry yawns

Before writing this piece, I googled various terms associated with “ARCI compliance certification.”

I could not find a relevant entry since February 2017. In fact, the most recent entry was the February 2017 piece I wrote asking if the compliance certification was just another gimmick.

There is no update from the RCI I could find.

No inquiring mind from any industry trade journal happened to write about the apparent failure of this promised program.

Why such a lack of interest?

I believe the industry has no expectations that the RCI is capable of initiating any meaningful reforms. The RCI may have thought it had generated favorable media attention two years ago when announcing this program. But, in my view, it simply solidified its status as an organization that is tough on talk but short on action.

It sure looks like this just another case where RCI has failed yet again.

I prefer to think of it, however, as simply meeting expectations.

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