The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) is aware that a number of horses in Ontario, and other jurisdictions in Canada, have received a positive test for capsaicin over the past several weeks.
The AGCO’s Equine Drug Unit is actively investigating these positive tests. As always, our priority is to conduct a fair and independent investigation to ensure the ongoing safety and integrity of horse racing in Ontario, as well as the health and welfare of equine athletes.
What is capsaicin?
Capsaicin is classified as a Class II drug, as per the Racing Commissioners International (RCI) Uniform Classification Guidelines for Foreign Substances 2020.
The Canadian Pari-Mutuel Agency (CPMA) issued a notice to the racing industry in September 2019 on the subject of capsaicin, and reminded veterinarians, racehorse trainers and owners that capsaicin is a prohibited substance in Canada due to its painkilling properties. The CPMA issued an update on June 23, 2020, and additional information on July 16, 2020.
Positive tests in Ontario
The first positive notification for capsaicin was called on June 25, 2020. Currently, there have been 11 capsaicin positive tests in Ontario.
- 9 Thoroughbreds (6 at Woodbine, 3 at Fort Erie)
- 2 Standardbreds (1 Hiawatha, 1 at Clinton)
Upon notification of the CPMA Certificate of Positive Analysis, all 11 horses were made ineligible for 15 days by AGCO Race Officials. No Trainers – or other licensees - have been suspended or otherwise penalized at this time.
At this time no individual licensee has received multiple positive tests for capsaicin. Multiple capsaicin positives will be dealt with on a case-by-case basis and all relevant circumstances, including prior positive tests, will be taken into consideration to determine if a penalty is appropriate.
The AGCO’s Equine Drug Program Process
The positive tests are being actively investigated in accordance with the AGCO’s Equine Drug Program Process, which can be found here.
Each case is being reviewed under the Stream 1 Process and is currently at the information gathering stage (Stage 5). The AGCO is extending the 15-day turnaround time at Stage 5 to ensure a thorough investigation that, among other matters, attempts to identify the source of the multiple positive tests.
The safety and integrity of the sport, and the health and welfare of the horse, are paramount to the AGCO. We are committed to completing an investigation that is both fair and independent to all involved. In this regard, the AGCO will continue working closely with the CPMA and other provincial regulators across Canada who are reviewing similar matters given the presence of capsaicin positives in other provinces.
For more information:
Equine Drug Unit
Chris Bennett, Detective Sergeant
Investigation Enforcement Bureau
Ontario Provincial Police