Press Release

Animal Wellness Action Says Indictments Are Critical Step in Reforming Horse Racing, but National Legislation Needed to Stop the Scourge of Doping

Washington, D.C. — In response to the FBI raiding multiple horseracing facilities across the U.S. and federal prosecutors charging racehorse trainers, veterinarians and drug distributors for involvement in a corrupt scheme to rig race outcomes, Animal Wellness Action lauded federal authorities for treating the problem seriously and renewed its call for lasting reform by passing national legislation to end doping of horses on race day.

The arrests come on the heels of a recent hearing in the U.S. House of Representatives on the Horseracing Integrity Act, H.R. 1754, led by U.S. Reps. Paul Tonko, D-N.Y., and Andy Barr, R-Ky., that would ban race-day doping in American horseracing and create a uniform national standard for drug testing and regulation under the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA). Animal Wellness Action has been leading the charge to pass the legislation and testified before the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee in support of the bill in January.

“Unscrupulous trainers that drug horses are not only putting animals and jockeys at risk of life and limb, but they are rigging the system and making a mockery of anyone who bets based on their knowledge of the athletes involved,” said Marty Irby, executive director at Animal Wellness Action, and a lifelong horseman. “The betting public will no longer tolerate the racing industry’s drug addiction, and we applaud the Department of Justice for stopping doping abuses. What more evidence does Congress need to step up and pass comprehensive legislation to end performance-enhancing drugs in American racing?”

U.S. Sens. Martha McSally (R-Ariz.), and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) introduced a similar measure in June of 2019, S. 1820 in the U.S. Senate.

This landmark measure is backed by a broad base of industry players which range from the Jockey Club, The Stronach Group, The New York Racing Association, The Breeders’ Cup, Keeneland, and countless trainers, owners, and breeders invested in American horseracing.

Horseracing operates under an outdated, state-based, balkanized patchwork of medication rules that creates confusion and risk for owners and trainers and contains gaps in rules and enforcement. The Horseracing Integrity Act would greatly improve regulatory standards, ban the use of all medications on race day, and level the playing field for everyone invested in horse racing.

Animal Wellness Action is a Washington, D.C.-based 501(c)(4) whose mission is to help animals by promoting laws and regulations at federal, state and local levels that forbid cruelty to all animals. The group also works to enforce existing anti-cruelty and wildlife protection laws. Animal Wellness Action believes helping animals helps us all. Twitter: @AWAction_News

Animal Wellness Foundation is a Los Angeles-based private charitable organization with a mission of helping animals by making veterinary care available to everyone with a pet, regardless of economic ability. We organize rescue efforts and medical services for dogs and cats in need and help homeless pets find a loving caregiver. We are advocates for getting veterinarians to the front lines of the animal welfare movement; promoting responsible pet ownership; and vaccinating animals against infectious diseases such as distemper. We also support policies that prevent animal cruelty and that alleviate suffering. We believe helping animals helps us all.