Current Procedures and Protocols for Drug Testing

As competitors, it’s important to stay informed in regards to drug testing protocols within our sport. Today Julian McPeak, Director of Marketing & Communications for USEF, sits down to answer a few of our questions about current procedures.

1. What is the new protocol for drug testing veterinarians and technicians?

a) Are fresh nitrile gloves required?
Yes. Gloves are required.

b) What tubes are currently being used and how are they identifiable to the horse trainer/owner/attendant?
We are using Plasma Separator Tubes, the green tiger top tubes.

c) After samples of blood and urine are drawn, where should they be placed? A dry ice cooler? The satchel of the technician?
The samples collected will remain in the custody of the testing veterinarian or technician until they are placed in a cooler or refrigerator.

2. What is the protocol for a non-compliant horse? Is trainer/owner/attendant required to restrain him by any means in order to obtain blood, i.e. ear twitch, lip twitch, lip chain. What happens if the trainer/owner/attendant refuses these measures?
A reasonable attempt for blood collection will be made, but the safety of the horse, handlers, and testing team are of the utmost importance. Sometimes additional restraint methods are helpful in securing a blood sample, and testing personnel will work with the handler.

3. What is the maximum mandatory wait time for a horse to urinate?
There is no maximum time required to wait for a urine sample. The average time to wait is around one hour, but could be shorter or longer depending upon the circumstances and the demeanor of the horse.

4. If trainer/owner/attendant feels that the rules or protocol are not being followed during or after the collection process, what should he do? Contact the horse show steward?
Yes, contact the Steward or TD and involve them in the testing process. Additionally, there is a tear off portion of the Educational Pamphlet that can be submitted.

5. Many testing procedures are now being taped by the trainer/owner/attendant. If the tape reveals a lapse in procedure or protocol, to whom should it be sent?
Send the video to Dr. Stephen Schumacher at Please include the name of the competition, the date, and the horse.

6. If the testing experience is escalating for the animal or the trainer/owner/attendant, are they permitted to ask the veterinarian or technician to contact the show steward or show veterinarian?
Contacting the Steward or TD is always an acceptable solution.

7. What is a reasonable expectation of turnaround time for testing? When may a trainer/owner expect to hear if there is a positive result?
Typically, results are reported within 60 days but may be shorter depending upon the time of the year. To find out the status of your horse’s test go to the Federation website approximately four to six weeks following the sample collection. Type in your horse’s Sample ID number. The sample will either be listed as “Cleared” or “Pending.”

Thanks Julie for taking the time to answer our questions!

The Plaid Horse Publisher, Piper Klemm, with the help of Dr. Amy Rabanal made this informative video about drug testing procedures.

We encourage everyone who shows or is thinking about showing to learn the rules and procedures, so we can all continue to enjoy our wonderful sport in a safe and fair environment.

About the Author: Piper began her tenure as the Publisher of The Plaid Horse Magazine in 2014. She received her B.S. with Honors in Chemistry from Trinity College [Hartford, CT] in 2009 and her Ph.D. in Chemistry from the University of California, Berkeley in 2012. She is an active member of the hunter/jumper community, owning a fleet of lease ponies and showing in adult hunter divisions.
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