March 29, 2019
The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) is piloting a concussion protocol as of April 20, 2019 at Woodbine and Fort Erie Racetracks for the duration of the 2019 racing season. The protocol seeks to ensure jockeys diagnosed with a concussion by a Qualified Medical Professional are fully recovered before they engage in racing. The pilot will enhance the health and safety of jockeys and race horses, and protect the integrity of racing.
For the pilot, the standards-based rule will suspend jockeys who are diagnosed with a concussion until they receive a Fit to Race note from a Qualified Medical Professional. See the Directive for the full standards-based rule.
A concussion protocol is an important part of the AGCO’s commitment to safeguarding jockeys and race horses while enhancing the integrity of racing. The protocol will also raise awareness and understanding of concussions and associated health risks among jockeys and others.
Jockeys who sustain concussions during races pose health concerns not only to themselves if they continue to race without proper medical care, but also to other jockeys and race horses. The concussion protocol will supplement existing provisions that address injuries in general, to provide a clear process for the identification and management of concussions incurred by jockeys.
Several other major racing jurisdictions and prominent sports leagues in North America and internationally have developed concussion protocols for the safety and welfare of their athletes. The AGCO has developed the concussion protocol pilot using best practices learned from these jurisdictions, in addition to consultations with the horse racing industry in Ontario.
The standards-based rule defines the necessary requirements for racetracks to ensure a Qualified Person is present on race days to assess jockeys spotted for concussions. Appropriate regulatory levers are included to ensure jockeys deemed to require further medical evaluation from a Qualified Medical Professional do not race until they are deemed Fit to Race by a Qualified Medical Professional.
Definitions in the Standards-Based Rule:
Qualified Medical Professional means a medical professional able to diagnose a concussion.
Qualified Person means an individual who has successfully completed the Sport Concussion Assessment Tool 5th Edition (SCAT5) training or equivalent on identifying signs and symptoms of concussion.
Fit to Race means that the jockey is medically cleared to race and can meet all of his or her obligations pursuant to the Rules of Racing.
The AGCO will pilot the standards-based rule at Woodbine and Fort Erie Racetracks through the following activities:
- Specialized in-person training sessions at both racetracks for jockeys and other licensees who work closely with jockeys to raise awareness and provide education throughout the track. Educational materials will be made available during and after the sessions.
- Training for Race Officials/Stewards to ensure an understanding of their role as “spotters” in identifying jockeys that may be suffering from concussion following an incident.
- Education materials prepared and distributed by Race Officials/Stewards as jockeys come from other jurisdictions to race in Ontario.
- Providing jockeys with a list of Qualified Medical Professionals/medical clinics who have agreed to see jockeys in a timely manner.
The AGCO is committed to gathering information over the course of the concussion protocol pilot at Woodbine and Fort Erie Racetracks. Jockeys and other participants are encouraged to provide feedback to Race Officials/Stewards as the pilot proceeds.
For more information, on-duty Race Officials/Stewards may be contacted at: https://www.agco.ca/race-day-contact-list.