11/19/2013 1:16PM

U.S. Anti-Doping Agency chief to testify at U.S. House subcommittee hearing

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A U.S. House subcommittee scheduled to conduct a hearing Thursday to discuss legislation that would require racetracks to fund an “independent anti-doping agency” to write and enforce the sport’s drug policies has called six witnesses, including Travis Tygart, the chief executive of the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, which is expected to seek the contract to conduct the sport’s drug tests if the legislation passes.

Tygart will join four witnesses on the panel with ties to the racing industry, along with Wayne Pacelle, chief executive of the Humane Society of the United States, an organization that has pressed racing to support anti-slaughter legislation and prohibit the race-day administration of furosemide, the anti-bleeding drug that is legal to administer in every jurisdiction in North America.

The four witnesses with racing ties are Jess Overton, former chairman of the Minnesota Racing Commission; Phil Hanrahan, chief executive of the National Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association, which staunchly supports race-day furosemide use; Dr. Lawrence Soma, a researcher and drug-testing specialist at the University of Pennsylvania; and Sheila Lyons, a farm owner with a veterinary degree who was highly critical of medication use and the practices of racetrack veterinarians at a House subcommittee hearing to discuss the sport’s regulation in 2012.

Thursday’s hearing was called to discuss legislation introduced in May that would ban the race-day use of furosemide within two years of the bill’s enactment and appoint an unnamed anti-doping agency as the sport’s official drug-policy overseer. The bill requires racetracks to fund the agency before accepting interstate bets on their races.

Tygart, the USADA official, was the keynote speaker at The Jockey Club’s Round Table Conference on Matters Pertaining to Racing in 2012, and he has since intimated that the USADA, a private, nonprofit company that is retained by the U.S. Olympic Committee to perform its drug tests, would be interested in conducting drug tests on horses. The Jockey Club supports efforts to ban the race-day use of furosemide.

Federal efforts to replace racing’s current state-by-state regulatory scheme have been launched several times over the past four years. Those efforts have never gone beyond the committee level, and hearings on specific legislation have been sparsely attended by committee members.

Thursday’s hearing was called by the U.S. House Committee on Energy and Commerce’s Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing, and Trade.

Thomas Cook More than 1 year ago
First off its really bad to allow any organization, nonprofit or not, that's involved with Olympic disciplines into racing. The parties despise each other and bias is a foregone conclusion. The Jockey Club is the alleged class governing body of racing. The HBPA protects the horseman and horses. Let these two legitimate authorities hash it out. Who is this Guy and what exactly makes him worthy of speaking on our behalf. And I for one get horrified when a bankrupt government gets involved in our sport on any level. They'll close us down, vote themselves another raise and shut down The WW 2 Memorial again.
kingsailor2 More than 1 year ago
great points
jeff More than 1 year ago
Considering Katrina and now the ACA this should go real well. Horseracing needs its OWN national body. Good grief.
Ray Sousa More than 1 year ago
I hope that congress acts on legislation that criminalizes the doping and cheating that goes on in horseracing. The fact is these people are stealing from the betting public. We dont allow casinos to rig their games why should racing be any different. When Armstrong doped himself people were outraged and felt betrayed but what goes on in horseracing is a lot worse not only does it cheat the bettors of their money it harms the horses and ruins the chances and careers of those that don't cheat...racing has a unique gambling mandate it is the only legal sports betting country wide and for it to keep this mandate congress should demand that it be conducted honestly and protect the bettors as it does with lotteries and casinos.
kingsailor2 More than 1 year ago
TOBA, Jockey Club, etc., are trying to slip in some late-year legislation to have federal takeover of the industry. Sheila Lyons has been thoroughly discredited as applying human "research" to thoroughbreds. Where are the real thoroughbred veterinarians?
Ray Sousa More than 1 year ago
Lets be honest if left to the industry nothing is going to change it will just get worse..as for the veterinarians they are the problem along with the owners and trainers.
Robin Dawson More than 1 year ago
This is a very big deal. But the fact that only three people have bothered to comment tells you that thoroughbred horse racing in North America is as a dead as Monty Python's famous Norwegian Blue parrot.
walesfoodmusic More than 1 year ago
I agree,and the funny thing is that there was a news piece today that 6 of the original members of Monty Python were about to get back together to brighten our lives up a bit after 30 years in the wilderness.Alas there was no mention of the parrot.
Robin Dawson More than 1 year ago
No parrot...but they could do a spoof on North American horse racing..with John Cleese as Ted Bassett III, Michael Palin as D.G. Van Clief, Terry Jones as Alex Waldrop and Eric Idle as Jim Gagliano...simultaneously Cleese would be playing Frank Stronach and promising not to mention the war....and Palin double-dipping as a half-witted David Willmot, the man who boasted that the slots at Woodbine would make that track bigger than Churchill and Keeneland combined. This might prove to be the funniest show since Rob Ford took office.
John Murray More than 1 year ago
Hey Robin we're "just kipping, pining for the fjords" I believe that most racetrack devotees are in agreement that a single unified body would be desired to clear up doping and that the present situation is unacceptable. What to do specifically is the unknown, I agree that this is a very big deal. Perhaps the racing industry problems are of such farcical comedic parallels as you reference but there are many of us who still believe it can be made better by working towards optimistic positive goals. Glad to hear of another Python horse player,
Robin Dawson More than 1 year ago
John, you are quite right. What amazes me today is that people seldom look back and demand accountability. So you just get the same old hackneyed ideas and useless people being re-cycled. I told Ted Bassett how to fix this in 1995...but O no...'that would be too contraversial, Robin'..we have Tim Smith, Rick Baedeker, Keith Chamblin and whole bunch of smart guys who are going to fix things...you'll see'. Well, here we are almost 20 years later and these guys, who sunk the proverbial Titanic while getting film-star wages and medals, are probably under consideration for new rolls in the 'bright future' of the Sport of Kings. Its unbelievable.
Jay Stone More than 1 year ago
With all due respect to this Highly esteemed group of individuals This is not the group that should be testifying before Congress. What about trainers,owners, track management, backstretch workers, riders. Etc.? These are the people who should be testifying about the problems that exist in this sport. This just looks like a case of political appeasement. It almost looks as if this group of people was put together to Make sure the idea of unification never gets off the ground
Ray Sousa More than 1 year ago
Lets get real here if left to the industry nothing will ever change. The veterinarians profit from all the medication. The trainers know exactly what their horses are getting and their only concern is not getting caught all they care about is withdrawal schedules on the drugs they are using. The owners well these titans of industry and business act like they have no idea about what their horses are given and are untouchable when it comes to responsibility. yet they get the vet bill every month and pay it no questions asked.not even a simple question like what the vet bil is higher than your training fee ?.what kind f treatment is this horse getting?.in their businesses they control every cost and know everything with their horses they pay any bill and dont ask questions.really?so whos left to clean up this mess 90 year old stewards with no law enforcement powers or investigation skill?. slapping $500 fines on jockeys and trainers that earn millions is not going to deter anybody. the solution lies with law enforcement and federal supervision.
Billy Spathanas More than 1 year ago
Ray, I have been in this horse business for the 20th straight year. Maybe not as long as you but 20 years is longer than a lot and I do plan on the next 20 years . Everytime I read your posts , you sound like you have been put through the ringer. You also make it sound like every and all trainers , owners , and vets are bad. Here is a news flash Mr. Sousa, there are a lot of very good horseman and woman out there who care and condition there horses without a vet. There are very good Vets on the backside who do care for there owners, horses and people who work 7 days a week. If owners say to there trainers, Do what you have to do to get them to the races or if a trainer says to there owners, I gotta do this to get them to the races, to me , there not real good horseman or woman or owners just don't give a hoot.......... Not everyone is out to get as much as they can out of there thoroughbred, all you have to do is find it....... No disrespect to you sir............
chad mc rory More than 1 year ago
Uh - Who is this guy and where did he come from?
Lawrence Redding More than 1 year ago
he is just another well paid lawyer, and ceo of an non " profit organization " who appointed themselves to monitor drug use in sports. Through political clout in congress , they are partially financed by your taxes. ask Lance Armstrong.