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.
Source: Coalition for Horse Racing Integrity