Ed Martin, president of the Association of Racing Commissioners International, submitted the following as a rebuttal to a recent two-part series in the Paulick Report, written by former Indiana Horse Racing Commission executive director Joe Gorajec. Those articles, dealing with what Gorajec referred to as a “culture of cheating,” can be read here as part one and part two.
I read with great interest and sadness the latest opinion pieces implying that most everyone in racing is dirty and those responsible for policing the sport just don't give a damn. Frankly this drumbeat is getting boorish.
The latest installments were authored by my friend and former colleague Joe Gorajec who in the past has consulted for something called the Coalition for Horse Racing Integrity, an entity bankrolled by those pursuing a political agenda in Washington. (Editor's note: The Coalition for Horse Racing Integrity membership includes Breeders' Cup Ltd., Consignors and Breeders Association, the International Federation of Horseracing Authorities, The Jockey Club, The Jockey Club of Canada, Keeneland Association, Kentucky Thoroughbred Association, Kentucky Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders, Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association and the Water Hay Oats Alliance.)
Mr. Gorajec claims that non-Lasix race-day injections with performance enhancements are commonplace as is the falsification of veterinary records and filings with racing commissions. He offers no proof, just belief, yet his comments throw red meat at a constituency eager to believe anything bad about their local racing cops.
If what he claims was so commonplace then surely he would have a long litany of prosecutions to point to. Even though the Indiana Horse Racing Commission has prosecuted such infractions, as have most other racing regulatory agencies, such incidents are not as prevalent as Joe would have people believe.
With over 96,000 horse races in the U.S. each year and commissions on guard against the race-day use of illegal drugs, the instances of these violations have been remote, even in Indiana when Joe was on the job. The data shows that the commissions have found cheaters everywhere, but that doesn't mean that everywhere and every time you look you find cheating.
Joe implies that the lack of universal adoption of the Association of Racing Commissioners International Model Rule requiring the independent administration of furosemide (Lasix) is indicative of a lax attitude toward doping. That is fantasy. If anyone thinks that getting the vet out of the stall on race day will guarantee against illegal drug administrations, I have a bridge to sell you. Those hell bent on cheating will just find a way to work around it. The rule may and does help, but it is but one piece of a much larger effort.
As one who has been in the trenches on these issues for the past 20 years, what is needed is: increased electronic surveillance; more boots-on-the-ground investigators; aggressive research into designer drugs and emerging threats; a dedicated way to pay for all this as well as expanded testing; AND a lot less politics.
Increased out-of-competition testing can have a deterrent effect. On this Joe and I agree. But Lance Armstrong proved to the world that this is no panacea as he beat the tests over 200 times before getting caught thanks to an informant.
During Joe's last year with Indiana, 10 percent of their commission's tests were out of competition. But he didn't catch anyone or find anything with these tests. While many commissions already are moving to do more such tests, some of our most senior experts warn that we may be putting the cart before the horse absent greatly expanded research into emerging threats and designer drugs.
While I have no argument with Joe's claim that there are cheaters, I disagree with the attitude that cheating is ubiquitous. The testing and enforcement data is not supportive of that claim. That does not mean it doesn't happen or that we should ever stop looking for new and better ways to police the sport. Suspicious vigilance is a constant necessity.
Just as it does the sport a disservice to deny a problem, it is an equal disservice to overstate a problem or portray it as something unique to our sport when it is not.
Combatting doping in sport is not a match race between anti-doping agencies who face the same problem in their individual sports. Greater cohesion, sharing of resources, research and intelligence would serve both racing and human sport better than the “us vs. them” mentality used so destructively in political campaigns.
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