WASHINGTON, D.C.--The House of Representatives now has 220 cosponsors of the Horseracing Integrity Act of 2019, which would create an independent body, the Horseracing Anti-Doping and Medication Control Authority under the oversight of the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA).
Unfortunately, the House, which will not be back in session until January due to Christmas, has been consumed by impeachment, so bills are in limbo, therefore it is unsure at this time whether the bill will get a vote in the House, but given the fact that the majority of House members now support the bill, it would likely pass.
Congress may not agree on much, but thankfully seems to agree that reform is needed in the horse racing industry, but despite that agreement, nothing is being done.
Not only would this bill benefit race horses, but without it there's a good chance that, beginning with California, racing might be banned throughout the country, destroying an industry that is loved by many and that gives jobs to millions of people.
THE NEW anti-doping authority would be governed by a board of six individuals with deep horse racing expertise and seven individuals from the USADA., which is the benchmark for drug testing and enforcement of human athletes, including the nation's Olympians.
The bill will create a uniform medication policy for all 38 racing jurisdictions.
Currently each state has its own set of rules on medication for racehorses.
The Horseracing Intefrity Act will ban race day medication and substantially increase out of competition testing, which is currently used only 1 percent of the time to catch cheaters.
Despite its national and international scope, modern horse racing in the United States is still being conducted under outdated state-by-state drug and medication rules with 38 states using 38 different sets of rules
This causes risk to the horses running races; confusion for owners and trainers whose horses race across state lines; and inconsistency for bettors who want to be able to fairly evaluate horses.
It’s clear that when it comes to medication, the horse racing industry can’t both promote and police the sport.
In 2017, the U.S. had one of the highest, if not the highest, rates of fatal racing injuries at 1.61 per 1,000 starts measured over approximately 305,929 starts, according to The Jockey Club.
There are 38 pari-mutuel racing jurisdictions in the U.S. that contain about 100 racetracks, including thoroughbred, quarter horse and standardbred racing.
Currently, there is minimal of out-of-competition testing in the sport, which is widely accepted as an effective tool to catch cheaters who dope racehorses.
Too many American racehorses are currently also administered race-day drugs to enhance their performance, a practice banned by nearly all other countries.
The consensus is that if a horse needs drugs in order to race, that horse should not be on the track.
Congress considered banning drugs in horse racing in 1980, but instead allowed each state to make its own decisions on drugs and horse racing.
This has resulted in a patchwork of state laws that encourage trainers caught doping their horses to move from state to state and continue doping and racing their horses
The Horseracing Integrity Act of 2019 is a pro-animal welfare and pro-industry bill that will ban race-day medication, create a uniform medication policy for all 38 racing jurisdictions, and substantially increase out-of-competition testing for racehorses.
This bill will address equine welfare, protect the integrity of the sport and promote a sustainable and viable horse racing industry in the United States by granting independent control over rule-making, testing and enforcement oversight regarding drugs and medication to a new Authority created by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency.
The new Authority, with limited oversight under the Federal Trade Commission, would be comprised of representatives of USADA and members of the horse racing industry, and would be responsible for:
• developing, publishing, and maintaining rules regarding substances, methods, and treatments that may or may not be administered to thoroughbred race horses;
• implementing programming related to anti-doping education, research, testing, and adjudication to prevent the racing of horses who have been so affected;
and establishing uniform rules imposing sanctions, up to and including a lifetime ban from horse racing, for those who violate the rules.
The Act would require that horse racing associations and off-track betting operators recognize the jurisdiction and authority of the independent Authority as a condition of accepting, receiving or transmitting interstate wagers on horse races.
This legislation has been endorsed by The Jockey Club, the Breeders’ Cup Ltd., the Water, Hay, Oats Alliance (WHOA), The Humane Society of the United States, the Kentucky Thoroughbred Association, Kentucky Thoroughbred Owners & Breeders, the Consignors and Commercial Breeders Association, Meadowlands Racetrack, Tioga Downs, Vernon Downs, Arapahoe Park, The Stronach Group (parent company to the Maryland Jockey Club, The Preakness Stakes, Santa Anita Park, Gulfstream Park, Portland Downs, and Golden Gate Fields) the Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association, and many horse owners, track owners, and trainers.