Congressman Joe Pitts (R-Pa.) joined with Senator Tom Udall (D-NM.) to comment on thoroughbred horse racing legislation introduced on Thursday.
The Thoroughbred Horseracing Integrity Act would create a new organization, the Thoroughbred Horseracing Anti-Doping Authority (THADA), to regulate medication use in Thoroughbred horse racing and allow drugs to be used on race day.
This legislation is markedly different from reform legislation introduced by Congressman Pitts and Senator Udall.
Rep. Pitts has introduced legislation with Reps. Jan Schakowsky and Anna Eshoo to authorize the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA), which tests, for example, Olympic athletes, to also conduct anti-doping tests on racehorses. This legislation would not be limited to thoroughbred racing, but include Quarter Horse and Standardbred racing. Moreover, it would allow USADA to permanently ban bad actors from the sport.
Rep. Pitts and Sen. Udall have introduced legislation to repeal the Interstate Horseracing Act, the statute which grants horse racing the privilege of interstate gambling over the wire. Over 90% of horse racing revenue is received from this source, and, as a consequence, it creates an incentive to win at all costs. Repealing this privilege would put pressure on the industry to put in place strict rules to end doping, including raceday medication.
Congressman Pitts stated: “This new proposal masquerades under the veneer of “reform” but sadly, if enacted, would actually make matters worse by allowing drugs and medications to be used in race horses on race day. This is unacceptable and this is why real reform has as its foundational underpinnings, a ban or prohibition of drugs, all drugs, in horses on race day. Not only does this bill not ban race day medication, but it does not require stiff penalties for cheating, nor does it apply to Quarter horse and Standardbred racing. With 24 horses dying on America's tracks every week, it's past time to enact true reforms that protect these magnificent creatures from the scourge of doping.”
Senator Udall stated: “I welcome new interest in pursuing doping reform legislation from horseracing industry groups and members of the Congressional Horse Caucus. Unfortunately, the bill introduced by Representatives Tonko and Barr falls far short of what is needed to end the scourge of doping in the Sport of Kings. It does nothing to protect Quarter Horses and Standardbreds. The bill lacks strong enforcement and also delegates federal authority to a racing industry group, preempts state racing laws and taxes state governments.”
Horseracing showcases the beauty of an iconic American animal. Chronic abuse of performance-enhancing drugs in horse racing threatens an industry that has a more than $25 billion annual economic impact and sustains about 380,000 jobs nationwide.
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