Thursday, May 25, 2017

New Horseracing Integrity Act Introduced in US House of Representatives

The establishment of a single federal authority to oversee horseracing would give the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency jurisdiction over racehorse medication testing under the tenets of new legislation filed in Congress. Congressmen Andy Barr (R-KY) and Paul Tonko (D-NY), the Co-Chairmen of the Congressional Horse Caucus, introduced H.R. 2651, the Horseracing Integrity Act in the United States House of Representatives on May 25, 2017.

The legislation, an updated version of the Thoroughbred Horseracing Integrity Act of 2015, establishes an authority, via a board, to create and implement a national uniform medication program with input from the horse industry. According to the Coalition for Horse Racing Integrity, which supports the bill, the authority will establish permitted and prohibited lists of medications, naturally and synthetically occurring substances, and treatment methods. The bill requires that the authority prohibit the use of medication within 24 hours of a race no later than January 1, 2019.

“With growing momentum and support, the time has come for uniform medication rules in American horseracing,” said Congressman Barr in a joint press release issued with Congressman Tonko. “Uniform rules will ensure the integrity and competitiveness of American horseracing and lay the groundwork for the future success of this great American sport.”

“I am excited to partner once again with Congressman Barr on this critical issue,” said Congressman Tonko. “Much is at stake here, especially in regions like ours with long historic ties to an industry that contributes $4 billion to the New York economy each year, much of it in and around the Saratoga Race Course.”

Under existing law, the American horseracing industry labors under a diverse patchwork of rules governing medication policies and practices across dozens of different racing jurisdictions. Supporters of the new legislation feel that lack of uniformity in the current rules of horseracing has undermined public confidence in the sport.

The intent of the Horseracing Integrity Act will be: 1) to encourage fair competition and a level playing field across state lines, 2) to assure full and fair disclosure of information to purchasers of breeding stock and to the wagering public;  and 3) to provide for the safety and welfare of horses, jockeys, and drivers. This, in turn, will enhance the popularity and international competitiveness of American horseracing.

The legislation is supported by The Coalition for Horse Racing Integrity, which is made up of individuals and organizations representing a broad spectrum of interests across the horse industry including the Water Hay Oats Alliance, the Kentucky Thoroughbred Association, the Jockey Club, Keeneland Association, and the Stronach Group, one of the world’s leading racetrack operators.

The Humane Society of the United States is also supporting the new legislation. Writing in his blog on May 25, HSUS president and CEO Wayne Pacelle pointed out, "The bill introduced today would put the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency — a non-profit organization that runs anti-doping programs for U.S. sports, including the U.S. Olympics and the Pan American Games — in charge of a program to set one national uniform set of rules on medication use in horse racing. USADA has demonstrated its integrity time and again, and it’s the right body to oversee this aspect of racing."

The new legislation does not mention how or if equipment rules would be affected, and does not mention any changes governing racetrack personnel.

Going forward, the Horseracing Integrity Act will be subject to committee review and possible hearings in the House of Representatives as its sponsors attempt to gain support from both parties in Congress and bring it to a vote.

Note: The Thoroughbred Horseracing Integrity Act of 2015 (H.R. 3084) was introduced in a previous session of Congress, but did not come up for a vote.

A complete copy of the proposed legislation is available at

Sources for this article include Representative Barr's press release, the Coalition for Horse Racing Integrity, the Humane Society of the United States, and the text of the proposed Act.

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