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Friday, May 3, 2013

Call in the (Feds) NGO

The Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act is set to be introduced by Senator Tom Udall (D-NM) and Representative Joe Pitts (R-PA).  This act if approved would put horse racing under control of a non-governmental agency the United States Anti-doping Agency (USADA), the group which knocked Lance Armstrong out of sporting due to alleged doping.  Were this bill to be passed, racing would pay for its regulation but with the USADA's powers, they can offer severe penalties for horse doping.

As you can imagine the feelings within the industry are mixed.  Some, like Jeff Gural feels it would be a good idea as racing is unable to regulate itself.  Others feel it will be a disaster as what does the USADA know about horse racing; in fact, the RCI claims the rules will be weaker under the USADA because they currently grant therapeutic exceptions.

I don't think there is any argument that on paper, the rules regarding what is permitted and what isn't which racing uses is pretty extensive (there can be an argument made about same day medications).  The problem is what happens after that.  Racing has a pretty abysmal record when it comes to getting rid of drug cheats; the USADA does very well when it comes to punishing cheats.  There is no doubt in my mind that those who would be willing to bend the rules now would have second thoughts if the Anti-doping association got involved and actually booted out trainers for lengthy if not permanent suspensions.

Whether or not you support the USADA taking over testing, one has to realize the only reason  this legislation has been proposed is because of the perception that racing can't police itself properly when it comes to illegal medication.  My question is how many times does racing get to say 'trust us' only to fail once again before the government puts it foot down?

That time may have finally come.

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