US racing drug policy bill introduced to Senate


A bill that would bring uniformity for drug policy in US horse racing was introduced in the Senate this week. The Horseracing Integrity Act of 2019 (S.1820), a companion bill to H.R.1754, aims to bring sweeping reform to US racing with the creation of a private, non-profit horse racing anti-doping authority, the Horseracing Anti-Doping and Medication Control Authority (HADA).  

The Horseracing Integrity Act of 2019 was introduced by Senators Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Martha McSally (R-AZ).

The HADA would be responsible for developing and administering a nationwide anti-doping and medication control program for horse racing. It would also create a set of uniform anti-doping rules, including lists of permitted and prohibited substances and methods, replacing the current patchwork of regulatory systems that govern horseracing’s 38 separate racing jurisdictions.

Over the last several years, Gillibrand has followed the push for federal legislation to create HADA and right the sport.

“We applaud Senators Gillibrand and McSally for their leadership. The introduction of a companion bill in the Senate shows tremendous momentum on this issue,” said Shawn Smeallie, executive director of the Coalition for Horse Racing Integrity (CHRI).

“A significant part of the racing industry, as well as all of the major animal welfare organizations, support the Horseracing Integrity Act. We call on the rest of the industry to come together and support this common-sense legislation and be on the right side of history.”

The Senate bill is nearly identical to the Horseracing Integrity Act of 2019 (H.R. 1754), introduced by Reps. Paul Tonko (D-NY) and Andy Barr (R-KY), but the Senate version includes the requirement that horse sellers notify buyers if a horse being sold has ever been treated with bisphosphonates, a medication that may be harmful to bone development in young horses.

H.R. 1754 has already garnered the bipartisan support of more than 100 representatives this Congress. With the support of key members such as Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), chair of the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Consumer Protection and Commerce, and Reps. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) and Vern Buchanan (R-FL), co-chairs of the Congressional Animal Protection Caucus, CHRI is hopeful and optimistic that the legislation will move through the committee process and pass the House this year. This companion Senate bill will help expedite this process.

HADA would be governed by a board composed of six individuals who have demonstrated expertise in a variety of horse-racing areas, six individuals from the United States Anti-Doping Agency, and its chief executive officer. USADA is recognized by Congress as the official anti-doping agency for the US Olympic, Pan American, and Paralympic sports.

“We commend Senators McSally and Gillibrand for leading efforts in the Senate to address racehorse welfare,” said Kitty Block, president and chief executive officer of The Humane Society of the United States. “This crucial bill will help establish a uniform set of rules, testing procedures and penalties to rid racing of unethical drugging and doping of horses. This promises to improve both oversight of the industry and also the welfare of racehorses.”

The Coalition for Horse Racing Integrity represents a diverse group of racing organizations, racetracks, owner and breeder associations, and animal welfare groups that support the adoption of a national, uniform standard for drug and medication rules in horse racing.

• Three organizations dedicated to the improvement of horse health are calling for research proposals to investigate bisphosphonate administration in racehorses and in young racing prospects intended for sale at public auction.

The initiative by the Racing Medication and Testing Consortium (RMTC), the Grayson-Jockey Club Research Foundation and the American Association of Equine Practitioners Foundation seeks to understand how bisphosphonates affect the long-term health and soundness of equine athletes. No research exists regarding the medication’s influence on horses under four years of age.

The complete Request for Proposals can be read here. The deadline for submission is October 1, 2019.

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