US Polo Association Drug, Medication Tests Begin at Matches

by Fran Jurga | 1 April 2010 | The Jurga Report at

(The following text is an edited version of a longer press release.)

In an effort to implement a pilot program for equine drugs and medications testing for its sanctioned events, the United States Polo Association (USPA) has engaged the services of the United States Equestrian Federation (USEF) Equine Drugs and Medications Program. This new pilot program has been implemented in time for the annual 2010 polo season that includes the annual USPA U.S. Open Polo Championship in West Palm Beach, Florida this month.

In October 2009, the USPA Board of Governors unanimously approved a by-law change that requires individual members of the USPA to submit his or her horses for random blood and/or urine testing. The Association has also amended by-laws to include disciplinary action against any member convicted of a civil animal-abuse violation.

According to USPA Executive Director Peter Rizzo, “We at the USPA feel it’s important that polo players and the general public alike know we uphold the welfare of our animals to the highest degree and will take the measures necessary to ensure animal safety in our sport.”

The new USPA program includes detailed information about permitted, restricted and prohibited drugs, medications and substances, as well as rules regarding enforcement and sanctions for EDMP Rules violations. The rules also include dosing recommendations for restricted medications. Random testing will be conducted field-side after the game.

During the 2010 calendar year, there will be no adjudication for violations of the USPA Equine Drugs and Medications Rules. If a horse tests positive for prohibited drugs and medications in 2010, the owner and the player of the horse will be contacted by the USPA. Commencing 2011 and thereafter, upon finding of a positive test under the USPA Equine Drugs and Medications Rules, the owner, and /or the player who competed the horse (who may, or may not, be the same person) as well as the sponsor of the team for whom the horse competed (if the horse is owned by a corporate entity) could be charged with a Conduct Violation according to USPA Rules and/or By-Laws. Such violation, depending upon the severity, may result in suspension or termination of USPA membership and exclusion from USPA competition and Member Clubs, monetary fine and retroactive disqualification from a competition.

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