New Federal Racehorse Drug Legislation Introduced

New Federal Racehorse Drug Legislation Introduced

The legislation prohibits a horse from receiving any medication or drug within 24 hours of a race, but includes a two-year exception for Salix used for 3 year olds under the current Association of Racing Commissioners International rules.

Photo: Anne M. Eberhardt/The Horse

A U.S. Senator and four members of the House of Representatives have introduced the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act of 2013 to regulate/prohibit substances, methods, and treatments that can be used in racing.

The legislation, introduced by Senator Tom Udall (D-N.M.) and Representatives Joe Pitts (R-Pa.), Ed Whitfield (R-Ky.), Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.), and Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.), is not the same as the bill they introduced in the last Congress, according to the American Horse Council (AHC).

The bill calls for a new "independent anti-doping organization" to be responsible for "ensuring the integrity of horse races that are the subject of interstate off-track wagers and the safety of persons involved in such horse races," according to the AHC. "The bill gives this anti-doping organization authority to permit/prohibit the drugs and medications that may be administered to a horse in a race subject to an interstate off-track wager and set the withdrawal period for its administration."

The legislation prohibits a horse from receiving any medication or drug within 24 hours of a race. There is a two-year exception for furosemide (commonly known as Salix or Lasix) used for 3 year olds under the current Association of Racing Commissioners International rules and administered by a veterinarian with a client-patient relationship.

The legislation specifically designates the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA)—a private, non-governmental agency that is the official anti-doping agency for the U.S. Olympics —to be the organization responsible for overseeing the initiative.

According to the AHC, the bill charges USADA as the overseeing agency to develop and enforce rules for permitted and prohibited activities, including:

  • Permitted substances, methods, and treatments that can be administered in the context of a veterinarian-client-patient relationship;
  • Guidelines for the use of such permitted substances, methods, and treatments, including withdrawal times before a race; and
  • Prohibited substances, methods, and treatments that cannot be administered.

Under the legislation, the USADA would also be charged with organizing programs for anti-doping education, research, testing, and adjudication to prevent a horse from racing under the influence of medications or drugs. In developing the rules and programs, the USADA can consult with state racing commissions, race tracks, horsemen's groups, and others.

USADA would have the authority to exclude any person from racing for the first violation of the rules against the use of any prohibited medication or drug and for the third violation of the rules against the use of permitted medications/drugs. Also, USADA has discretion to suspend any exclusion if a person assists in identifying other violations of the rules or federal or state laws under the legislation.

The AHC said the bill does not amend the Interstate Horseracing Act (IHA); rather it prohibits interstate wagering under the IHA without the "consent" of USADA. To offer interstate off-track wagers, the race track putting on the race, and the off-track system accepting the wager, must have the consent of USADA, in addition to the other consents presently required by the IHA. As part of granting this consent, the race track must have an agreement with USADA that includes the terms and conditions regarding compliance with the new rules and specifies payments to USADA to fund the costs of regulation and enforcement. USADA is charged with ensuring that all costs incurred in carrying out its duties and responsibilities under the new law are paid by the industry.

By tying the new requirements, even indirectly, to interstate wagering, it applies the new prohibitions and requirements to any race that is simulcast interstate under the IHA, the AHC reported.

The House bill (HR 2012) was referred to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, on which Representatives Pitts, Whitfield, Schakowsky, and Eshoo sit. The Senate bill (S 973) was referred to the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation.

Originally published on

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The Blood-Horse Staff

The Blood-Horse is the leading weekly publication devoted to international Thoroughbred racing and breeding. Since 1916, the staff of The Blood-Horse has served the Thoroughbred community with the highest standards of journalistic excellence to provide comprehensive and timely editorial coverage and analysis.

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