U.S. Senate to examine drugs in horse racing
“Medication and Performance Enhancing Drugs in Horse Racing” will be in the spotlight next Thursday in Washington, D.C., when the United States Senate's Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation conducts a hearing that will bring together both opponents and proponents of the horse racing industry's current regulatory structure and permissive use of therapeutic medication in horses, including the race-day diuretic furosemide.
The hearing is scheduled for 2:30 p.m. in the Russell Building, Room 253. It will be lived-streamed at www.commerce.senate.gov.
This will be the second Congressional hearing in the last three months examining drugs and horse racing. In late April, the House of Representatives Energy and Commerce Committee's Subcommittee on Health conducted a hearing entitled “A Review of Efforts to Protect Jockeys and Horses in Horseracing.” The House subcommittee included Kentucky Rep. Ed Whitfield, co-sponsor of the Interstate Horseracing Improvement Act of 2011, which would ban all drugs in a horse's system on the day it races, require drug testing labs to meet international standards for accreditation, and impose strict penalties for rule violators.
Sen. Tom Udall of New Mexico is a member of the Commerce Committee and co-sponsor of the same bill.
The committee has not released its complete list of those expected to testify, but the Paulick Report has learned it includes Barry Irwin, head of Team Valor International racing partnerships and an outspoken opponent of race-day medication. Also invited to appear is Kent Stirling, president of the National Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association's Medication Committee that supports current medication practices.
It is expected representatives from the American Quarter Horse Association, The Jockey Club, and a state regulatory agency or the Association of Racing Commissioners International will also appear.
The committee will examine current use of medication and performance enhancing drugs in horse racing, focusing on their negative effects, and will also look at the current state of industry practices and whether state-based regulatory model is sufficient.
The Interstate Horseracing Improvement Act of 2011, introduced in April 2011, expires at the end of 2012, and its likelihood of passage seemed remote earlier this year. However, with the series of investigative articles in the New York Times, the recent rash of positive tests for the powerful painkiller dermorphin, and the high-profile suspension of Kentucky Derby-winning trainer Doug O'Neill for a 2010 violation related to an elevated total carbon dioxide reading in one of his horses, there may be additional support.