Call for Modifying the USEF Equine Drugs and Medications Rules

The article which was originally published in the January 19, 2015 Chronicle of the Horse entitled “We Need to Modify the USEF Equine Drugs and Medications Rules” stirred a significant conversation about equine medications and the USEF regulations. Mr. Turner’s position was that even though there have been significant advances in drug testing technology, the USEF still adopted a policy wherein certain drugs could not be found in a horse’s system, even if those amounts have been shown not to affect performance.

Mr. Turner’s description of the USEF drug rules is similar to a legal principle called “strict liability.” Strict liability is a tort or injury principle wherein the wrongdoer or tortfeasor is responsible for injury, no matter the reason for the injury. The idea is that if the wrongdoer chooses to partake in a very dangerous activity, then the wrongdoer should be responsible for any injury at all caused by that activity.

Strict liability is seen in dangerous activities, such as ownership of a dangerous animal or the use of dangerous explosives. For example, if John Doe owns a tiger, and he has a friend over, and he tells the friend to not pet the tiger but the friend attempts to pet the tiger anyway and gets injured, John Doe will be responsible for his friend’s injuries. He cannot claim that his friend was negligent for not listening to John since John is strictly liable for any injuries cause by the tiger.

Likewise, the USEF does not care if a rider did not administer impermissible drugs to the horse if it tests positive for a prohibited substance. The USEF takes almost a strict liability stance because it does not care if the rider did not administer the drugs, nor does it care that the substance was expected to have left the horse’s system by the time of the competition. The USEF takes a stance that is comparable to strict liability when it comes to prohibited substances found in horse, regardless of whether it affects the horse’s performance.

The original article can be viewed on the writer, Joel Turner’s, website.

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