ARCI’s Martin: Let USADA Bid To Do Equine Drug Testing

by | 04.21.2017 | 8:28am
Ed Martin, president of the Association of Racing Commissioners International

Ed Martin, president of the Association of Racing Commissioners International, closed out the racing regulators' equine welfare and integrity conference Thursday by urging his member organizations to extend an invitation to the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency to bid on their equine drug-testing contracts.

USADA is the national anti-doping organization in the United States for Olympic, Paralympic and Pan-American sport. Some prominent people in horse racing believe USADA has a contribution to make in regards to drug testing.

“If USADA wants to get involved in racing, there's nothing stopping them,” Martin told the ARCI membership meeting. “They could do that today, by responding to a procurement from a racing commission to do their drug testing. I don't believe USADA has bid on any drug-testing contract from any commission. I do know, when I read about them doing boxing or mixed martial arts, that they apparently have done work for other state agencies that regulate” professional sports.

“So, it might be good if every commission, the next time you do a procurement for lab services, include USADA on the bid list. Let them make a proposal. Then it would be really interesting, if you had a commission that had USADA be their lab, to see the difference with the labs we now have. If you look at the USADA testing results, the percentages that are clear and the percentages that have an adverse analytical finding, it's comparable to all the world anti-doping labs and it's comparable to the labs doing the testing in professional horse racing.

“Nobody is against talented people who maybe can help us do better. Rather than have a 20-year debate over how to re-structure the world of racing regulation … if somebody thinks USADA ought to be involved in horse racing, then let's give them that opportunity. Let's give them the opportunity to compete for a state's drug-testing contract, and let's see how they do. If they do better, I'm sure everybody in the room is going to want them.”

Martin concluded by telling the regulators, “This association's strength is based on the efforts of everybody in this room and your colleagues who are not. Collectively we take a tremendous amount of heat, and usually take heat from people who have absolutely no idea of some of the challenges and obstacles that stand in your way running a government agency to try to police a sport with tremendous moving parts.

“We've made a lot of important progress — individually and collectively. There's more work to be done — just as there will always be more work to be done.”

  • The main reason for getting USADA involved in racing is not just drug testing per se, but to have an independent agency in charge of regulating the sport. The current system of governmental oversight of our sport that includes control of substances administered to horses is not producing results that insure integrity of the “bet.”. Few gamblers have confidence in the “bet.” As for me personally, I want USADA involved because I have seen what they can do with their investigative arm, one that racing does not have. Until we have a group with independence and skills, this sport will continue to wither and decline. My goal is to see the sport thrive, not to insure the perpetuation of mediocrity.

    • J. Nasium

      Yeah, bring in a gov’t agency for oversight, great idea….you think handle declines are do to fewer gamblers having confidence in “the bet”? I thought handles were holding their own, in fact Gulfstream is having a banner year, isn’t NY handle up for the year? Don’t you think casino competition has a bigger effect on “the bet”? Are The Stronach Group and Churchill and NYRA really getting hurt because of a few gamblers afraid to make “the bet” because an illegal doping by a trainer or vet? Plueeeze, gimme a break, Keep the federal gov’t out, they have enough “dopes” of their own and most of them are in Congress, and let’s not forget The Clown at the top. You want to screw up racing….let the feds in.

      • FYI, USADA is not affilated with the federal gov’t. It is a private agency that oversees drug testing for events such as the Olympics, cycling. No gov’t influence whatsoever. There is a bill in Congress but it would turn over regulation to a private agency.

        • J. Nasium

          Don’t tell me that with a flick of a pen and the easy use of the Interstate Commerce Clause, the federal gov’t won’t be involved….they look for “projects” like this…I will admit though that while not being a federal agency in the true sense, it’s about as quasi a federal agency as you can get, and eventually evolve into one. So I yield to you on the fact that they are not a federal agency as neither is the U.S. Olympic Committee and we all know how politics and money play parts in their governance.

          • The federal government is already involved by way if the interstate horse racing act that legalized wagering across state lines and thus allowes off track via federal mandate in states that allow wagering. Going back to 1987 I believe. Unless racing gets this under control there is nothing to preclude a change to that law disallowimg jurisdictions that don’t have some form of medication reform to participate across state lines. Add one additional paragraph to the verbiage a stroke of a pen and it’s done.
            And with the visibility this issue has that possibility Is a real thing

      • Larry Sterne

        first, you group this organization with all other agencies like social security and the military ,too too broad of an argument All government is not bad. I think you might agree on this point. If you look at their reputation and results you may even think they are the type to be associated with. Racing has a business model that is driving it into the ground for an eventual burial. We need to try new ways to prevent this death.Best Regards

        • J. Nasium

          With a $12,000,000 race which next year will be more than that because Dubai is raising theirs to $15,000,000 and a robust sales of thoroughbreds, prices should be solid for the OBS upcoming sale this week, things are not as bad as thought to be. What racing needs to do is attract more fans. They have known this for years and years and years and still don’t know the answer. If racing were getting new fans, we wouldn’t be having this conversation.But you are correct…all gov’t isn’t bad. Look some Congressman with support is introducing a bill to tax GIs in the neighborhood of $100 a month to pay for the GI Bill…..Can you imagine a soldier fighting in Iraq or Afghanistan seeing his pay stub with a deduction for the GI Bill so he can go to school for a better job IF hopefully and when he returns home? I do not want the federal gov’t near horse racing THAT WILL DRIVE IT TO THE GROUND.

      • What is your agenda, pal? Because you obviously don’t know much about USADA.

        • J. Nasium

          Has nothing to do with USADA. You just want to bring in more oversight and more BS to the sport and think you’ve solved a problem. There are too many fingers in the pot as is. I have no agenda, just fix what you have.

          • What currently passes for oversight is ineffective. Why wouldn’t somebody want to fix it?

      • disqus_wZUB6w9ANy

        I agree with your negativity toward gov’t involvement with certain aspects of society to an extent. However, I am certainly glad the FBI is involved in the egregious case at Penn National.
        That said, the USADA is not a gov’t agency, but yes it is quasi gov’t and yes some of their proclamations are held as standards in court , so yes it is quasi gov’t.
        But that said, you are wrong in your assumption that illegal drug use in racing are keeping bets down, Current players are not talking up the sport/wagering to new players be/c of the lack of integrity (and lack of punishments). That is as sure as casinos decreasing the handles.

        • J. Nasium


          That wasn’t my argument about the “integrity of the bet” that was Barry Irwin’s (see a few above this) I was making fun of it. Samples and testing are done post race, after tickets are cashed, so to me it doesn’t matter who does the testing, who are you protecting?. But as far as weeding out the cheaters, I’m all for that but not by giving that authority to any federally “blessed” company. (I understand that the USADA is not a federally funded agency). Once the federal gov’t has a foot in the door, somehow they eventually own the whole room. You’ll see so many regulations that owners will just say the hell with it. Hores owners, trainers and race track operators in the various racing states should get together and hammer out a uniform drug testing guideline and let the labs in their racing jurisdictions handle the testing. Giving it to one company on a national level, I just don’t like it at all. Irwin’s excuse for drug testing oversight by the USADA to insure the integrity of “the bet” for a few gamblers is laughable.

        • Most of the whales from the old days gave up the game when cheating became rampant.

          • J. Nasium

            Well it was you that brought up the integrity of the bet….do you really think the average player thinks of that and as an aside do you really think that it’s housewives and $2 bettors that move the board? Whales of the old days have been replaced by whales and super rich today. You talk like every race has something rotten going on…c’mon man you’re better than that.

          • You make a lot of assumptions. I don’t count those jerks that squeeze the middle out of the pools for the rebates as whales. And as for me thinking that every race has something rotten going on, you have no clue what I think.

          • J. Nasium

            I think you don’t have a clue to what you are saying. You’re the one that said there was rampant cheating not me. I’m just repeating what you said. Give Donald Trump my regards you sound just like him.

    • Larry Sterne


  • Shawn Smeallie

    It is about time that Ed Martin has finally recognized the value of an independent organization handling horseracing’s anti-doping efforts. He should go one step further and take the lead in getting most if not all of the state commissions to come together and reach out to USADA. As Ed knows, USADA will entertain any sport that wants to clean up its anti-doping image, but it has to be on their terms. As with mixed martial arts and other sports, USADA determines the testing procedures, including very robust out-of-competition testing, tight chain-of-control testing protocols, and the use of accredited labs only. State commissions would have to agree on the independence of the program and uniform application of the rules and penalties. If this all sounds familiar, it is because that’s exactly what is in the proposed Thoroughbred Horseracing Integrity Act that had nearly 90 cosponsors last Congress.

    If this outreach by RCI is a sincere effort, the Coalition for Horse Racing Integrity stands ready to work with Ed to encourage as many states as he can to come together and reach out to USADA. In the meantime, Ed Martin and the RCI should endorse the proposed bipartisan federal legislation as the most visible way to show their commitment to clean racing.

    Shawn Smeallie
    Executive Director, Coalition for Horse Racing Integrity

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