The Horseracing Integrity & Welfare Unit will introduce "an intelligence-driven strategic testing plan to be deployed uniformly across the country," the organization said in a news release on Friday. HIWU is the organization established in 2022 by Drug Free Sport International to administer rules and enforcement under the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Authority's Anti-Doping and Medication Control program.
HIWU said it aims to launch the program in late March, pending approval of the rules by the Federal Trade Commission.
The standardized testing protocols are designed to promote the integrity of Thoroughbred racing and the safety of the horse while modernizing the sample collection process at Thoroughbred tracks nationwide, according to the HIWU release.
The Horseracing Integrity and Welfare Unit operations team will take an interdisciplinary approach in its allocation of testing across the country, with a focus on ensuring the quality and effectiveness of the doping control process, it said. The operational strategy will also be informed by collaboration with the investigations department to incorporate and act on pertinent information received through an anonymous whistleblower platform.
While HIWU has the ultimate discretion to select covered horses for all types of testing, intelligence from “boots-on-the-ground” industry participants, including stewards and veterinarians, and continued cooperation with state racing commissions and laboratory/scientific partners will also inform the test selection process, according to the unit. The unit's testing approach will aim to enforce accountability in the administration of "controlled medication substances and methods while deterring the use of banned substances and banned methods, it added.
“Our test distribution strategy is designed to create a better environment for horsemen who play by the rules. We will identify those who intentionally commit ... (doping and medication) violations and hold them accountable,” said Kate Mittelstadt, the integrity and welfare unit's chief of operations.
All testing under the Anti-Doping and Medication Control program will be conducted by certified sample collection personnel who receive training from HIWU. Many current test barn personnel and veterinarians will continue in their positions while operating under a voluntary agreement between the unit and their respective state or track. In jurisdictions without voluntary agreements, HIWU will establish teams and contract individuals, including via recruitment of and consultation with experienced test barn personnel and veterinarians.
A key component of certification will be training on a paperless documentation system via a HIWU app that will be prepopulated with relevant race-day and covered horse information from InCompass and the HISA portal. The app was developed in partnership with EventLog, which developed similar apps for the British Horseracing Authority, the Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board and the U.S. Equestrian Federation.
Collections personnel covering all racetracks will receive on-site training from the integrity and welfare unit before testing begins, and team members will be on site at all tracks to help launch the program when it takes effect. There will also be a national support line that will be staffed seven days a week, ensuring coverage during all testing periods. These intergrity and welfare unit staff will be prepared to answer questions from collections personnel in the field, support horsemen with questions during testing and triage inquiries to other departments if necessary.
“When it comes to testing processes, integrity starts with sample collection, and we are confident that (collections personnel) and other industry participants across the country will welcome the improvements created by standardized procedures and paperless records,” said Mittelstadt.
For more information about specific test types, interested individuals can find resources specific to testing at hiwu.org.
The integrity and welfare unit is anticipating that it will begin enforcement of the anti-doping and medication control program on March 27, pending approval of rules submitted to the FTC in December and published to the Federal Register on Jan. 26, it said in the release.
The Horseracing Integrity and Safety Authority resubmitted rules for the anti-doping and medication control program las month after the FTC rejected its first draft in late 2022 amid legal uncertainties raised by a U.S. appeals court's ruling that the body was unconstitutional because it lacked direct government oversight.
Legislation to address that issue was subsequently passed by Congress and signed into law by President Joe Biden, but opponents of HISA have vowed further appeals to try to block the new regulations.