On December 18th, a majority of the U.S. House of Representatives were confirmed as co-sponsors of the Horse-Racing Integrity Act of 2019 (HIA), paving the way for committee consideration and then a vote by the full House of Representatives.
The legislation now has more than 218 co-sponsors, which is a majority of the 435 voting members of the House. The bill was introduced in the House by Reps. Paul Tonko (D-NY) and Andy Barr (R-KY).
“Bi-partisan support from over 218 members is a critical milestone because it demonstrates to House leadership that the bill will pass on the House floor,” said Shawn Smeallie, executive director of the Coalition For Horse Racing Integrity. “Clearly Congress recognizes that the current patchwork quilt of state regulations that govern the industry is failing and an effective anti-doping program with a national set of drug standards is needed to bring equine safety and integrity back to the sport.”
The HIA will create a private, independent horse racing anti-doping authority, the Horse–Racing Anti-Doping and Medication Control Authority (HADA), responsible for developing and administering a nationwide anti-doping and medication control program for horse racing.
The new authority will create a set of uniform anti-doping rules, including lists of permitted and prohibited substances and methods in line with international anti-doping standards and veterinarian ethical standards. The new nationwide rules would replace the current state-by-state regulatory mechanism that governs horse racing’s 38 separate racing jurisdictions.
“Momentum is building to reform the horse racing industry and establish a meaningful and effective drug control program,” continued Smeallie. “This past year highlighted many of the challenges facing the horse racing industry, and the Horse-Racing Integrity Act will go a long way to improving the health of our equine athletes.”
The Coalition For Horse Racing Integrity represents a diverse group of racing organizations, racetracks, owner and breeder associations, and animal welfare groups that support adoption of a national, uniform standard for drug and medication rules in horse racing.
The Daily Racing Blog has long been in favor of a unified set of rules and regulations for horse racing that are not bound by state lines and/or racing association jurisdictions. And while we aren’t certain that numerous federal government acronym groups are the answer, it is a step in the right direction to make our sport safer across the board.