October 30, 2015

Udall, Pitts on Thoroughbred Horse Racing Legislation Report

WASHINGTON - U.S. Senator Tom Udall (D-N.M.) and U.S. Representative Joe Pitts (R-Pa.) highlighted concerns raised in a Congressional Research Service (CRS) analysis of Thoroughbred horse racing legislation. The report's authors question the constitutionality of a House bill that proposes delegating regulatory authority over doping to a private industry group.

The report was released on the cusp of the Breeder's Cup, a horseracing championship series that begins today.

The independent report from the nonpartisan CRS examined The Thoroughbred Horseracing Integrity Act (H.R. 3084), which would create a new organization, the Thoroughbred Horseracing Anti-Doping Authority (THADA), to regulate medication use in Thoroughbred horse racing. Citing relevant case law, the CRS report notes that federal "delegations of regulatory and enforcement powers to private entities generally raise constitutional concerns, particularly when federal involvement and supervision...are absent." H.R. 3084, the legal analysis continues, "implicates these concerns."

A copy of the report, commissioned by Udall and Pitts, can be found HERE.

Udall and Pitts believe that the United States should take stronger action to crack down on doping in horseracing, and clean up the sport. Horseracing showcases the beauty of an iconic American animal. But chronic abuse of performance-enhancing drugs in horseracing threatens an industry that has a more than $25 billion annual economic impact and sustains about 380,000 jobs nationwide.

Pitts has introduced legislation (H.R. 2641) with U.S. Reps. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) and Anna Eshoo (D-Calif) to prohibit racehorse doping and authorize the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA), which tests, for example, Olympic athletes, to also conduct anti-doping tests on racehorses. This legislation would not be limited to Thoroughbred racing, but include Quarter Horse and Standardbred racing. Moreover, it would allow USADA to permanently ban bad actors from the sport.

Udall and Pitts have introduced legislation (H.R. 2182) to repeal the Interstate Horseracing Act, the statute which grants horse racing Internet and interstate gambling privileges. Over 90 percent of the $10.5 billion wagered annually on horseracing relies on this existing federal law, and, as a consequence, it creates an incentive to win at all costs. Repealing this unique gambling privilege would put pressure on the industry to put in place strict rules to end doping, including raceday medication.

Udall stated: "Doping in the Sport of Kings is unscrupulous and deadly, killing 24 horses in competition every week. Trainers and veterinarians who dope horses with 'frog juice' and other exotic drug cocktails should be kicked out of the sport. It's past time for the Sport of Kings to say no to drugs. No other sport allows such doping. No other sport tolerates such a high fatality rate for its athletes. No other sport enjoys such a sweetheart federal gambling deal. While I welcome Representatives Barr and Tonko's new interest in horseracing reform, the independent analysis of the Congressional Research Service shows how their industry-sponsored bill runs afoul of the Constitution. A better approach would be to embrace the strict anti-doping measures in our Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act."

Pitts stated: "This new report raises serious questions about the constitutionality of H.R. 3084. In contrast, real reform, like legislation I have introduced with Senator Udall, has as its foundation a ban on all drugs in horses on race day, consistent with the international standard. Not only does this thoroughbred-only bill not ban race day medication, but it does not apply to Quarter horse and Standardbred racing. Senator Udall and I appreciate the interest of Reps. Tonko and Barr in this important topic. Unfortunately, their legislative effort, drafted by the thoroughbred industry, omits reforms necessary to cleaning up the prolific drug use in horseracing. Instead, their proposal would authorize and codify in law the use of drugs in horseracing. It would not end the rampant cheating, nor punish the abusers with meaningful consequences, but ensure that the status quo remains in place. With the Breeders' Cup taking place this weekend, and millions of dollars at stake, this report's concerns are timely."