How are levels of detection changed?
There are no unannounced changes in the sensitivity of drug tests performed for BHA where the drug is a therapeutic agent. BHA’s contract with its analytical laboratory, LGC, contains these specific requirements. No change to the Performance Specification (for the detection of substances, including capability to detect (weight/volume) and any regulatory or other screening limit (weight/volume)] will be made at any stage of analysis without the specific and informed consent of BHA. LGC must consider the impact of changes in instrument sensitivity, changes to methods such as extraction from a matrix and changes resulting from malfunction of an instrument so as to assure BHA that Performance Specification outputs are not inadvertently changed.
Implementation of any changes to methodology, including effects on analytical sensitivity, must be agreed in advance with BHA. If such change is made at LGC’s instigation then BHA may require, at no additional cost to BHA, a period of ‘parallel running’ of the proposed change against the existing screening methodology. For clarity, these requirements may apply equally to changes dictated by changes in the Laboratory Standards (the quality control systems in place).
BHA’s Internal Procedures include the requirement to notify change.
There is a formal procedure for consideration and notification on any proposed change to the analytical testing methodology used to detect drugs in racehorses, such that any changes must be approved by the BHA Board.
A risk based assessment is made of the need for change. A transition period is set for old and new tests. During this time they are run in parallel, and any disciplinary action taken based on the old test. At the end of any transition period an assessment is made to confirm the need for change.
Before implementing any changes in analytical sensitivity for medications used for treatment BHA consults with the National Trainers Federation (NTF). This consultation will generally be based around new or changed Detection Times. Veterinary organisations will also be involved as required. The NTF is notified when changes are put into effect.
Whilst the majority of substances in which BHA have an interest are medicines for treatment, it does also have a responsibility to control substances misused for doping which have no place in racing. Here the analytical approach is robust identification and not any control of sensitivity. Consultation here is, by necessity, more limited and BHA may not consult before action is taken.