‘Common Sense Legislation’: Barr, Tonko Introduce Thoroughbred Horseracing Integrity Act of 2015

by | 07.16.2015 | 12:46pm

Congressman Andy Barr (R-KY) and Congressman Paul Tonko (D-NY), the co-chairmen of the Congressional Horse Caucus, today introduced the bipartisan Thoroughbred Horseracing Integrity Act of 2015.  Under existing law, the American thoroughbred horseracing industry labors under a diverse patchwork of conflicting and inconsistent rules governing medication policies and practices across 38 different racing jurisdictions. This lack of uniformity in the rules of horseracing has impaired interstate commerce and undermined public confidence in the sport.

By establishing an independent, nongovernmental anti-doping authority charged with the responsibility of implementing a national uniform medication program with input from the thoroughbred industry, the Thoroughbred Horseracing Integrity Act will encourage fair competition and a level playing field across state lines, assure full and fair disclosure of information to purchasers of breeding stock and to the wagering public and provide for the safety and welfare of horses and jockeys.  This, in turn, will enhance the popularity and international competitiveness of American thoroughbred horseracing.

“I am proud to represent Kentucky's Sixth Congressional District, the Horse Capital of the World,” said Congressman Barr.  “For well over a century, thoroughbred breeding and horseracing have provided good paying jobs, opportunity and entertainment to the people of our Commonwealth.  To build upon this proud heritage and to ensure an even more prosperous future for this signature industry, we must tear down the silos that divide the industry and replace the existing state-by-state system of conflicting and inconsistent rules with a national uniform medication program that facilitates interstate commerce, promotes safety, and enhances public confidence in the integrity of the sport.  By passing this bill and implementing these common sense bipartisan reforms aimed at uniformity, safety and integrity, we can lay the foundation for the future growth, popularity and international competitiveness of the American thoroughbred industry.”

“While the nation's sporting spotlight focused on American Pharoah this May and June, the Thoroughbred industry is a year-round enterprise responsible for a large number of quality jobs across the nation,” Tonko said.  “The racing industry has taken significant steps toward medication reform in the past several years, and this legislation will build on that progress by providing a uniform, national solution that sets the highest standards of independence, fairness and integrity – ensuring the future health of the sport and protecting thousands of jobs across the country.”

Arthur B. Hancock, III, a co-founder of the 1,200 member grassroots organization the Water Hay Oats Alliance said, “Senator Charles (Mac) Mathias, Jr. challenged the horse industry to clean up our sport in 1981. Now, over 30 years later, the horse industry has finally come together to work for meaningful drug reform and uniformity across its 38 racing jurisdictions. At last, we have a chance to revive our reputation and regain racing's prestige and proper place in the world of sport.”

The following statement is from the Coalition for Horse Racing Integrity:

The Coalition for Horse Racing Integrity announced today its support of the Thoroughbred Horseracing Integrity Act of 2015, a new bipartisan bill introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives by Congressmen Andy Barr (R-Ky.) and Paul Tonko (D-N.Y.). This legislation will grant authority for rulemaking, testing and enforcement of drug and medication use in Thoroughbred racing to an entity created by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA).

The Coalition represents a diverse group of horse racing and animal welfare organizations including The Jockey Club, Breeders' Cup Ltd., the Water Hay Oats Alliance, the Humane Society of the United States, the Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association, the Kentucky Thoroughbred Association and the Kentucky Thoroughbred Owners & Breeders.

“The Coalition thanks Representatives Barr and Tonko for issuing this common sense legislation,” said Craig Fravel, president and chief executive officer of the Breeders' Cup Ltd. “It is immensely gratifying to see the results of earnest collaboration among such a broad range of stakeholders. This bill is designed to bring long-needed reforms to the medication rules in Thoroughbred racing and provide a new level of certainty and trust for our participants and fans. We applaud these members of Congress for their foresight in regard to the future of an industry that contributes billions of dollars and generates hundreds of thousands of jobs to the American economy.”

The horse racing industry has been working to advance better rules pertaining to drugs, drug testing and penalties through the National Uniform Medication Program (NUMP) on a state-by-state basis, and while progress has been made, there still remain significant inconsistencies in standards and enforcement in the 38 states that permit pari-mutuel wagering.

“The horse racing industry needs a makeover, and this bill has the potential to deliver a new regulatory framework with a science-based program and provide better protection for all of the athletes involved,” said Wayne Pacelle, president and chief executive officer of the Humane Society of the United States. “We are grateful to Representatives Barr and Tonko for wading into this debate, and we hope that they can find common ground with other lawmakers interested in racing reform to get a good, comprehensive bill over the finish line.”

As a non-profit, nongovernmental organization, USADA would create the Thoroughbred Horseracing Anti-Doping Authority (THADA), to be governed by a board of six USADA board members and five independent individuals from the Thoroughbred racing industry. This body would work collaboratively with state racing commissions and their respective staff members throughout the country, funded entirely by industry at no cost to taxpayers. Among the provisions in the proposed legislation, THADA would develop and administer a nationwide anti-doping program that would go into effect beginning January 1, 2017, following input from the Thoroughbred industry and the public.

With its proven ability to protect the integrity of competition from athletes who use performance-enhancing drugs, such as the Olympics and Tour de France, USADA is uniquely equipped to provide independent oversight in setting uniform medication standards for Thoroughbred racing.

Recent studies show widespread support for legislation that would enable USADA to provide uniform drug and medication regulation. Five in six likely voters nationally (85%) support such reform, including 81% of Republicans, 86% of Democrats, and 87% of independent voters, according to a national survey conducted by Penn Schoen Berland. Wagering is the economic lifeblood of the sport, and this poll also showed such reform is supported by more than seven in 10 horse racing bettors.

Millions of people participate annually in American Thoroughbred racing as owners, trainers, veterinarians, and industry support professionals, and as fans and bettors. The industry contributes $25 billion to the U.S. economy annually and generates 380,000 domestic jobs, with 38 states participating in pari-mutuel racing and American Thoroughbreds traveling and racing overseas in Europe and on growing racing circuits in Asia and the Middle East.

Additional information, including a full summary of the polling results, stories from supporters and ways to contact Congressional members to express support for this legislation, is available at horseracingintegrity.com.

The following statement is from the Association of Racing Commissioners International, which opposes the legislation:

The Association of Racing Commissioners International (ARCI) is in the process of analyzing the full impact of the Barr/Tonko proposal announced today.   In response to media requests for an immediate reaction, ARCI President Ed Martin issued the following statement:

“The ARCI is unanimous in its opposition to shielding racing regulatory authority from public accountability by putting it in the hands of a private organization.

“We also note that the proposal provides absolutely no federal resources and not one cent of existing federal anti-doping monies to assist in chasing those who would dope horses.

“We find it ironic that many of the featured speakers at The Jockey Club's recent Welfare and Safety of the Racehorse Summit who have been instrumental in the development and implementation of regulatory policy – racing commission experts like Dr. Mary Scollay, Dr. Rick Arthur, and Dr. Scott Palmer – would all be shut out or severely diminished under this proposal.

“Equine welfare and medication policy should not be put in the hands of an entity with no experience with such matters and no veterinarian involvement.    We strongly oppose the politicization of racing medication policies and are concerned that equine welfare policies will be trampled should this be enacted.”

The following statement is from the National Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association, which opposes the legislation:

In a statement released to address the “Thoroughbred Horseracing Integrity Act of 2015” made by Congressman Paul Tonko (D-NY) and Congressman Andy Barr on July 16, 2015, The National HBPA voices strong opposition to this proposed bill.  The National HBPA represents the largest group of horsemen within North America among its 30 affiliates.  Each of the horsemen's groups are strong supporters of national uniformity in medication policies, and we all are aware of the significant progress made towards adopting uniformity.  In the last year and a half alone our industry has seen an increase in racing states adoption of Controlled Therapeutic Substances utilization, to include 70% of the nation's pari-mutuel handle.  However, we are opposed to any form of legislation that interferes with the Interstate Horseracing Act of 1978 (IHA).  We plan to review and analyze the bill in order to understand the bill in its entirety.  At that time we will be prepared to issue further statements to ensure we stand for, and protect, the rights empowered to all horsemen by the IHA.

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