03/27/2012 7:28PM

Kentucky representative calls for renewed support of anti-drug bill


Rep. Ed Whitfield, a Republican from Kentucky, called late on Tuesday for renewed support for legislation he introduced last year that would subject horse racing to federal regulation and ban the use of furosemide, a diuretic commonly known as Lasix, on race day.

Whitfield, in a release, said that he would push for the adoption of the legislation in the wake of the publication of an article Sunday in the New York Times outlining injuries at racetracks over the past three years. In the statement, Whitfield reiterated claims in the article that the use of drugs in racing was putting horses and jockeys in danger of being injured.

"For too long, the safety of jockeys and equine athletes has been neglected for the pursuit of racing profits," Whitfield said. "The doping of injured horses and forcing them to compete is deplorable and must be stopped. Despite repeated promises from the racing industry to end this practice, voluntary meaningful action and oversight are not going to happen."

Last year, Whitfield and Sen. Tom Udall, a Democrat from New Mexico, introduced a bill that would have placed racing under the oversight of the Food and Drug Administration, which would be responsible for drafting rules on the use of medications in racing. The bill would also subject any trainer who tests positive for a "performance-enhancing" drug three times to a lifetime ban, although the bill did not define what would constitute a performance-enhancing drug. In addition, the bill would ban the raceday use of drugs.

In most racing jurisdictions, the only legal raceday drug is the anti-bleeding medication furosemide. As a diuretic, the drug reduces capillary pressure. In a handful of racing jurisdictions, several other anti-bleeding medications are legal to administer in conjunction with furosemide.

The Times article focused on both Thoroughbred and Quarter Horse racing in New Mexico, the state that Udall represents.  Udall released a statement on Monday calling for support of the legislation, which was opposed by most racing organizations when it was introduced last year.

The Times article was the first in a series the newspaper plans to run on injuries in horse racing. On Tuesday, the newspaper's editorial board contended that the main reason for the injuries was "drugs" and said that a "powerful combination of money, secrecy and inattention has blocked progress and left the industry as compromised and dangerous as ever."

Kenneth Porteous More than 1 year ago
WOW, David, where have you been? The horse racing industry has been policing itself forever. You see what the so-called New Mexico Racing Commission did. Practically nothing. In California, there are allegations of the Calif Horse Racing Board tipping off promineng trainers of impending tests. Top trainer, Bob Baffert, once tried to convince one of his grooms to lie to investigators so he could throw them off one of his many positive tests. It took a multitude, and I mean many, of violations to get Richard Dutrow suspended, hopefully for good. David, where are the politicians currently involved in horse racing?
David Craighead More than 1 year ago
See, it's people and politicians that past and proposition law makers to past legislation to something they themselves have little or no knowledge of!...I think that the opposition needs to protest such matters and get the politicians out of the game of horse racing and allow members of the racing community do the policing of there own !, period !. The blind minded need to wake the hell up and clean up the yard !