A Win For Common Sense On Alcohol Policy

Dear Trainer

You may recall last year the ARB wanted to place a blood alcohol limit on Trainers (and all horse handlers) of 0.02. We argued that the legal limit to drive a car is 0.05 and that a limit of 0.02 would prevent female trainers from even enjoying a celebratory glass of champagne in the winners room with an owner. We were also concerned that if a stablehand goes out the night before and has a few drinks and wakes up at 3am to sweep the stables that they could lose their job. Thankfully the ARB has listened to us and from January 2013 the legal alcohol limit for ‘Horse handlers’ will be 0.05. Stewards also need to satisfy a ‘reasonable suspicion’ threshold before they may a test a horse handler too. The NSWTA has always been against drug and alcohol abuse but it’s good to see a common sense approach being applied here.Below is the excerpt from the ARB correspondence:

“The ARB Board at its meeting on 13 September approved a new rule of racing which sets the blood alcohol level at .05% and establishes a ‘reasonable suspicion’ threshold before stewards may test a horse handler. Moreover, implementation of the rule has been delayed until 2 January, 2013 to enable an awareness raising program to be undertaken.”

In other news I have attached the November Stewards report from Racing NSW. In summary they are getting better at testing horses for illegal drugs but they are also providing threshold limits for trainers so that we are armed with more information.
Steve McMahon
Chief Executive NSW Trainers Association

What we said in November 2011:
NSWTA CALL FOR A COMMON SENSE APPROACH TO NEW RULESThe Australian Racing Board have proposed that all trainers, stablehands and any ‘horse handler’ be subject to stringent recreational drug and alcohol testing even on non race days.The NSW Trainers Association CEO Steve McMahon has called for a “common sense approach” in handling this proposal to avoid ‘unnecessary ramifications across the racing industry”.The NSWTA has already requested an urgent meeting with ARB CEO Andrew Harding to discuss the matter and has written to Racing NSW CEO Peter Vlandys requesting that RICG discuss the matter at its next meeting.NSWTA CEO Steve McMahon said “We would never condone the abuse of drugs and alcohol and all we are asking at this stage is a common sense approach””Unfortunately recreational drugs are used in the general community and the racing industry aren’t immune from this, however we’re concerned how this will work? Who will do the testing? When and who will enforce and pay for all this?”One of the proposed rule changes could see any ‘horse handler’ with a blood alcohol reading of 0.02 (you can drive a car at 0.05) fined or suspended.”If a stablehand has a night out with his or her mates and has a few drinks and then wakes up at 3am to sweep and clean the stables and they are 0.03, under these rules they could lose their job” NSWTA CEO Steve McMahon said”It’s hard enough as it is getting staff to who are willing to wake up at 3am to clean out horse stables feed to horses for relatively low wages.”The ARB are citing OH&S safety reasons for the change. “That’s fine but surely the ARB could focus on improving the surfaces of our training and race tracks if they are really fair dinkum about workplace safety?””Surely the employer of stablehands, the trainer, is responsible for managing their staff?  No trainer is going to tolerate a worker who turns up drunk or affected by drugs.””If the ARB are so concerned about OH&S are they now going to pay the workcover and insurance premiums of trainers and their staff?””We would never condone drug or alcohol abuse and all we want is a common sense approach to this so we don’t unnecessarily lose staff and it doesn’t take our focus off the main game of improving racing for everyone.”  NSWTA CEO Steve McMahon said.