On June 1, 2021, the AGCO implemented the Canadian Pari-Mutuel Agency’s (CPMA) recommendation to lower the thresholds for total carbon dioxide (TCO2).
The thresholds for TCO2 have been lowered from 37mmol/L to 36mmol/L, and from 39mmol/L to 38mmol/L for horses registered in the Exercise Induced Pulmonary Hemorrhage (EIPH) program.
Carbon dioxide (CO2) occurs naturally in the blood of horses at varying concentrations. This natural level can be anywhere from 26/27mmol/l to 31/32mmol/l. An elevated TCO2 level is an indicator of the use of alkalizing agents, which may compromise the welfare of the horse when provided in excess, and the integrity of racing by artificially enhancing a horse’s performance.
Lowering thresholds helps to enhance horse welfare, improve public perception, and upholds the integrity in racing.
The AGCO supports the lowering of the levels and relies on the CPMA, who is responsible for setting the testing protocols and auditing the TCO2 program in Ontario and across the country, to do this research and provide guidance.
The purpose of lowering the thresholds is to level the playing field for the people who are abiding by the Rules of Racing, which includes a race-day ban on the excess use of alkalizing agents and any other drug, medication or substance that was put into effect in April 2019.
The AGCO agrees with the CPMA that lowering the TCO2 level is an important step to increase the integrity of the sport.
The AGCO has updated the impacted Rules to enhance the effectiveness of the TCO2 program and clarify that when a sample is not collected, the horse may be scratched at the discretion of the Racing Officials.
The Rules have also updated to reflect the ban on race day medication, which prohibits the administration of medications, drugs and substances to any horse starting 24 hours prior to the post time of the first race of the day they are scheduled to race.
Revisions to the rules related to the above are outlined in the Information Bulletin - Revision to the Rules of Racing to Lower TCO2 Thresholds Starting June 1, 2021.
As with all rule changes, the AGCO will continue to monitor this change for effectiveness and fairness.
For questions related to rule amendments, see the Race Day Contact List