Members of the Coalition for Horse Racing Integrity (CHRI) blanketed Capitol Hill on Wednesday seeking support for the Horseracing Integrity Act of 2019 (HIA). Individual members are meeting with senators to educate them on HIA, which was recently introduced in the U.S. Senate by Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Martha McSally (R-AZ). The Senate bill is the companion legislation to the House bill, which was introduced earlier this year by Reps. Andy Barr (R-KY) and Paul Tonko (D-NY).
“The Horseracing Integrity Act is gaining momentum with the introduction of the Senate bill, and prominent members of the horse racing industry have flown in from all over the country to help educate senators and members about the need for reform,” said Shawn Smeallie, executive director of CHRI. “We've already had 127 members of the House co-sponsor the bill, and we're confident that a majority of senators will get on board as well.”
The HIA would create a private, independent horse racing anti-doping authority responsible for developing and administering a nationwide anti-doping and medication control program. The program would be administered by the United States Anti-Doping Agency, the body responsible for administering anti-doping programs for human athletes, including the U.S. Olympic teams.
“The bill doesn't create a new 'Department of Horse Racing,' but rather sets up an independent board with broad representation from the industry,” continued Smeallie. “We are currently operating under a patchwork quilt of state regulations with little consistency across jurisdictions. Inconsistent rules mean that the health of horses suffers, with injuries and deaths that could have been prevented.”
The new set of rules, testing procedures, and penalties would replace the current makeshift regulatory system that governs horse racing's 38 jurisdictions. Passage of this bill will result in a substantial increase in out-of-competition testing, which will help ensure horses are free from performance-enhancing drugs during racing and training.
In a recent research paper, the group in charge of the industry's breed registry, The Jockey Club, wrote that “improper drug use can directly lead to horse injuries and deaths. Horses aren't human, and the only way they can tell us something is wrong is by reacting to a symptom. If that symptom is masked, the results can be devastating… we lag behind cheaters and abusers and by the time we have caught up they have moved on to the next designer substance.”
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