National Uniform Drug Testing and Enforcement For Thoroughbred Racing Expected To Be Introduced

Congressman Paul Tonko (D-NY), who serves as co-chair of the bipartisan Congressional Horse Caucus and represents New York’s 20th Congressional District, on Friday, May 29 announced plans to introduce the Thoroughbred Horse Racing Anti-Doping Act of 2015 to establish uniform standards for drugs and medication in the American Thoroughbred industry.

“While the nation’s sporting spotlight will be on American Pharoah and Belmont Park in the coming days, the Thoroughbred industry is a year-round enterprise – responsible for a large number of quality jobs and economic growth not only in New York’s Capital Region, but throughout the country,” Tonko said. “The racing industry has taken significant steps toward medication reform in the past several years, and this legislation will build on that progress by providing a uniform, national solution that sets the highest standards of independence, fairness and integrity – ensuring the future health of the sport and protecting thousands of jobs across the country.”

Medication in the Thoroughbred industry is currently regulated on state-by-state basis, creating a patchwork of rules and uncertainty for industry members and fans alike and a wide disparity in testing effectiveness and enforcement. The planned legislation would grant independent authority over rule-making, testing and enforcement oversight regarding drugs and medication to an entity created by the non-profit, non-governmental U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA).

This legislation will not create an ongoing role for the federal government in horse racing or use taxpayer dollars to fund the program. The funds necessary for the establishment and administration of the horse racing anti-doping program would be paid entirely by the industry, at zero cost to the taxpayer.

“A single, national approach to medication and drug testing with strong independent oversight and enforcementis long overdue and will help ensure the industry’s long-term viability, including enhancing the care and welfare of horses,” Tonko said.

The Congressman commended groups from inside and outside the Thoroughbred industry that have come together to form the Coalition for Horse Racing Integrity in an effort to advance better medication rules and seek national uniform standards. The coalition is made up of:

  • Two major Thoroughbred racing organizations – Breeders’ Cup Ltd., and The Jockey Club;
  • An animal welfare group – The Humane Society of the United States;
  • And the grassroots organization Water Hay Oats Alliance, which is 1,000 members strong.

According to Rep. Tonko, “There is much at stake, with the Thoroughbred industry contributing $25 billion to the U.S. economy annually and nearly 400,000 jobs, including many in the Saratoga Springs area that I represent.

“I plan to introduce this legislation in the coming weeks, and encourage all members of the House who care about horse racing’s future, as well as the importance of clean competition, to join me as co-sponsors of this critically important legislation.”