Updated on 05/01/2013 5:00PM

Bill would ban raceday medication and turn enforcement over to U.S. doping agency


Three federal legislators plan to introduce a bill next week that would require the horse racing industry to provide funding to the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency to administer the sport’s drug-testing and enforcement policies and that would ban the use of all raceday drugs, including the anti-bleeding medication furosemide.

Sen. Tom Udall, Democrat of New Mexico; Rep. Joe Pitts, Republican of Pennsylvania; and Rep. Ed Whitfield, Republican of Kentucky, will co-sponsor the bill, a release from Udall’s office said. It was unclear when the legislation would be introduced, if ever: The release called the bill a “draft.” Representatives of Udall and Pitts did not respond Wednesday to requests for comment or requests to see a draft.

Introduction of a bill that would grant some kind of federal authority over the regulation of racing has become a rite of spring over the past several years as racing’s critics have mounted aggressive campaigns raising concerns about the sport’s medication rules and enforcement. Previous efforts, however, have gone nowhere, in part because of resistance from the industry and in part because of reluctance by federal legislators, especially conservatives, to embrace efforts to expand the role of government.

Under the bill, the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, a private, non-profit company that conducts drug testing for the U.S. Olympic organization, would “develop rules for permitted and prohibited substances and create anti-doping education, research, testing, and adjudication programs for racing,” the Udall release said. The organization also would “put an end to raceday medication,” which would mean the ban of the use of the anti-bleeding medication furosemide, also known as Lasix, a proposal that is sure to draw opposition from leading horsemen’s organizations. The agency was instrumental in bringing doping charges against U.S. cyclist Lance Armstrong, who has admitted using performance-enhancing drugs.

Drug-testing programs are currently funded by individual state racing commissions, which often receive their funding from a small slice of the betting handle and the revenues generated by licensing fees. Many state racing commissions also receive funding from the state’s overall budget.

The bill would be introduced at a time when many racing organizations are already attempting to align medication rules among all 38 racing jurisdictions in the United States. So far, eight states, all in the Northeast or mid-Atlantic, have pledged to adopt a model set of rules governing legal and illegal drugs to go into effect Jan. 1, 2014, and more states are expected to join the effort later this year.

The legislative proposal is expected to face resistance from many states and their testing laboratories, considering the bill would take authority away from the states and divert funding for the testing laboratories to the USADA. In addition, many racing organizations that have worked on the latest reform efforts over the past several years may take exception to a federal effort seeking a similar goal.

The chief executive of the USADA is Travis Tygart, who gave the keynote address at last August’s Round Table Conference on Matters Pertaining to Racing, an annual conclave put on by the Jockey Club. The Jockey Club has been pushing racing organizations to support efforts to align racing rules among jurisdictions and stiffen penalties for violations of the sport’s medication rules.

Bob Curran, a Jockey Club spokesman, said that the organization played no role in drafting the legislation.

In a statement, James Gagliano, the Jockey Club’s president, said that the organization planned to review the legislation. The statement also said that the organization “is encouraged by the substantial progress being made in medication reform” by the states and associations seeking to adopt uniform rules.

A previous version of this article misstated the state Sen. Tom Udall represents. It is New Mexico, not Pennsylvania.

Quite A Dude More than 1 year ago
Gee, what are the Vets going to do? Push their vitamin injections to make a living? Then we can have a competition to see what trainer has the most vitamin rich urine spots in their stalls...
Margaret Cowan More than 1 year ago
Racing has proven over and over again that it can't regulate itself, and the cheaters are always one step ahead. I welcome the USADA, in the hopes that they can call out the cheaters and rid the sport of them. Thank you Mr. Whitfield, Mr. Pitts and Mr. Udall. You have my complete support.
Nathan More than 1 year ago
no lasix=no horseracing. that's a fact.
Ashley Johnston More than 1 year ago
you do know that europe races without lasix right? they use it for training but not for races. which is a great idea. a good horse shouldnt need lasix during a race. like animal kingdom in dubai. 0 lasix!
williambrigham2 More than 1 year ago
Dear Sir Their will Be Horse race in America Without the Use of Drugs And My Horse Laredo Silver too Will win the Triple Crown 2014 Sincerely President William Brigham Adair
Horse Cents More than 1 year ago
Well here comes big brother to fix everything if the states don't get their act together. Uniform testing is a small step, the states need to act quick and do more or the government will. Testing needs to be better funded with broader and high tech testing. Increase funding or the government will force you to increase funding and give it to them for testing. From what I've seen so far maybe it's not a bad thing. Clenbuterol. The anti doping agency has ruled this to be a performance enhancing drug and is banned. A bronchial dilator abused to increase metabolism and for it's anabolic properties to build lean muscle mass, is legal in the uniform testing drugs except race day. With a 14 day withdrawl period and more to be safe, and if a horse is being trained on it, you now know why a horse has 5 or 6 weeks between races. New Mexico, the free for all state, home of the demorphin or frog juice scandal, has banned clenbuterol for one year to review what they said was a wide spread abuse of clenbuterol. Who would have thought that they would be the ones in front of this while everyone else ignores it. Take this off the allowed list, there are plenty of dilators that don't have the wanted side affects. Get more focused and stop with the silly stuff. The CHRB falls all over themselves searching for that oh so horrible milkshake. Electrolytes, sodium bicarbonate and sugar, no drugs. O'Neil winds up in a drug scandal for a horse that had slightly high c02 level for a horse that finished eighth. That's bending over backwards to bark up the wrong tree. A milkshake is like carbo loading. Marathon runners carbo load prior to a race. it's allowed because pasta is not an illegal drug. If the anti doping agency was run like horse race testing they would put a 24/7 security watch on all runners to make sure they don't enter an Italian restaurant. Some even think using a nasal strip is cheating. A benign product that opens the airway a bit to maybe breath better with less irritation to the passageways and maybe lessons the likelyhood of bleeding. Cheating? But no problem loading a syringe with lasix to help him from bleeding. I don't get it. Pat Day used a nasal strip, was he cheating and should he have been banned from riding? Should we put an asterick beside his name and strip of any wins wearing a nasal strip? Blood doping. We are behind the eight ball on funding and testing, and don't seem to know what to look for or test for when we should be out front. Forget about genetic manipulators which are here. Ask the Chinese female swimmer who couldn't swim her way out of a bathtub and now is breaking records almost everytime she swims. Let's at least get caught up with some performance enhancers. Ever wonder how a horse bred for speed, trained for speed, then outruns his dosage consistently and carries that speed for 1 1/4 miles? Then soon thereafter has problems and is never seen again? Different blood doping agents work differently but basically increases red blood cells, increases oxygen in the blood and more efficiently transfers that oxygen. Ask Lance if it's effective with his six consecutive Tour De France wins. It's been around in racing for well over a decade. We don't test for it except at Breeders Cup. Take away the clenbuterol. Stop the silliness. Test for blood doping agents at least in added money or graded races.
Robert Smith More than 1 year ago
Well HC we dont always see eye 2 I but that was and excellent post. Good thought and effort. Funny thing is the 2 conservatives championing for more regulation (whiteman does speak with fork tongue). Could there be a worse idea than having people that dont understand the business trying to regulate it? Your points about the CHRB are spot on. Insiders even fall short so theres no reason to think outsiders will do better. Dont get me wrong there is a need for regulation but it needs to be tempered with common sense. Maybe increased federal funding,but not total control. @Ray You a T bagger?
jeff More than 1 year ago
Hey HC, Clenbuterol is beneficial to a horses health. Sounds like your to cheap to buy it for your horses. The real testing should be for all the pain killers that they do not have a test for that allow the cripples to get over the coarse. The NFL admits that they don't even have a test for most HGH. I say develop a test for those... the stuff Ness, Rodriguez and Dutrow have been using for years, not a bronco dilator that helps clean a horse out?!?
Horse Cents More than 1 year ago
You are right about HGH and they should test for it. You are wrong about clenbuterol, a study showed 50% or more are using it. But they use it for all the wrong reasons. There are other bronchial dilators that work as well without the anabolic properties.
Robert Smith More than 1 year ago
You are right jeff . When used wisely . Do you think all horses need it every day they train.? No, thats a crutch . Some horses excel on it and some back up. There is a mentality on the backside that if a little is good a lot gotta be better. Even if the signs are staring you in the face.
Ben van den Brink More than 1 year ago
The benovolence groups should back down, instead of time winning proposals.
chad mc rory More than 1 year ago
It's pretty damn sorry that Racing can't clean it's own house. I doubt this bill will go anywhere - once again. Hey Jockey Club... get off your butts!
Horse Cents More than 1 year ago
You said what I said, but in only three sentences.
Ashley Johnston More than 1 year ago
williambrigham2 More than 1 year ago
Dear Sir I sign The Bill into Law Because I Can Sincerely President William Brigham
Ray Sousa More than 1 year ago
About time. This is the only business were there are no consumer protections against fraud by dopers and cheats. And its become more than obvious that the industry has no will to enforce its own rules or spend the necessary funds to test appropriately and investigate corruption. so in this void the gov needs to step in like the do for every other wagering licensee..im sure the casinos cant simply fix the roulette wheel and the lottery cant rig the draw there is federal oversight why should horse bettors have lesser protection?...when was the last time an investigation in to race rigging or strange betting patterns took place? maybe 20 years ago. How come everybody at the track can easily identify the cheats months or years before they eventually are caught and kicked out and in some cases caught suspended for a month and are right back at it..the truth is the tracks are interested in one thing turning themselves into casinos and spending as little as possible in their racing operations the minimus in testing and oversight is the norm.so they will fight any legislation that would force them to have responsibility for the product they present to the public and do everything to continue the status quo.