Horseracing Integrity Act will crack down on drugging, protect racehorses

It is no secret that we have a drug crisis in the horse racing
industry, one that has led to the premature deaths of thousands of
horses over the years. Photo by iStockphoto

By Kitty Block and Sara Amundson

In recent years, major professional sports have taken crucial
steps to rid themselves of illegal doping in order to create a more
level playing field and to protect athletes from the adverse
effects of performance-enhancing drugs. But there has been no such
respite for equine athletes in the horse racing industry, where
both legal and illegal drugs continue to be used widely.

Today, U.S. Reps. Paul Tonko, D-N.Y., and Andy Barr, R-Ky.,
reintroduced the Horseracing Integrity Act, H.R.1754, a federal
bill that will better protect America’s racehorses by replacing
outdated state-by-state drug and medication rules with one national
standard, ban race-day medication and increase out-of-competition
testing. The bill has the support of a number of racing industry
leaders and animal welfare groups, including the Humane Society of
the United States, the Humane Society Legislative Fund, The Jockey
Club and the New York Racing Association. The HSUS
testified
before the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on
Digital Commerce and Consumer Protection in support of this bill
when it was
introduced in the last Congress.

It is no secret that we have a drug crisis in the horse racing
industry, one that has led to the premature deaths of thousands of
horses over the years. The problem began when Congress, in 1980,
decided to leave it up to states to come up with their own rules on
what drugs to allow in horse racing. This has led to a confusing
patchwork of state laws with no uniform national standard, and
it’s been a boon for unethical trainers who can move from state
to state to avoid penalties while continuing to dope and race
horses.

The widespread use of both legal and illegal drugs can lead to a
multitude of problems, both for the equine athletes and for their
riders. Some drugs allow a horse to push through pain, intensifying
an injury, or force worn-out horses to compete, which can result in
career-ending injuries and even death. Overuse and abuse of drugs
administered too close to a race can also mask lameness in horses
during pre-race exams – a problem veterinarians and other racing
officials have expressed concerns about – endangering both the
horse and the rider during a race.

Too many American racehorses are currently also administered
race-day drugs to enhance their performance, a practice banned by
nearly all other countries. If a horse needs drugs in order to
race, that horse should not be on the track.

Support for reform is quickly growing throughout the racing
industry as stakeholders recognize the importance and need for
clean competition in horse racing. The operators of Belmont Park,
Saratoga Race Course, Aqueduct Racetrack, and the Stronach Group
which owns several tracks, including Pimlico Race Course, which is
home to the Preakness, Keeneland, all support the Horseracing
Integrity Act, as does the Water Hay Oats Alliance and members of
the Coalition for Horse Racing Integrity.

This bill is a gamechanger for equine athletes. It is a
pro-animal, pro-industry measure that will not only help restore
fairness to the sport but it will also protect racehorses from the
winning-at-all-costs mentality embraced by cheaters. When the bill
was introduced in the last Congress it had 132 cosponsors, and we
are working to ensure it will cross the finish line this time.
Please
contact your U.S. representative
and urge them to cosponsor the
Horseracing Integrity Act, H.R.1754.

Sara Amundson is president of the Humane Society Legislative
Fund.

The post
Horseracing Integrity Act will crack down on drugging, protect
racehorses
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Source: FS – Pets – A Humane Nation
Horseracing Integrity Act will crack down on drugging, protect racehorses