Washington, D.C. – Today, U.S. Reps. Paul Tonko (D-NY), and Andy Barr (R-KY), who represent two of the meccas of American thoroughbred racing — Saratoga Springs and Lexington — introduced the Horseracing Integrity Act, H.R. 1754, to end the doping of American race horses and create a uniform national standard for drug testing that would be overseen by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA).
“Horse should run on hay, oats, and water, not on a cocktail of performance enhancers and medications,” said Marty Irby, executive director of Animal Wellness Action. “Our organization has already completed more than 150 meetings with key legislators on this issue in 2019, and we are pleased to join leaders in the horse racing industry and animal protection groups that have come together to end a shameful period where unscrupulous trainers have put horses and jockeys at risk.”
“My team and I have been chomping at the bit to get the Horseracing Integrity Act back in the starting gate for the 116th Congress,” said Rep. Paul Tonko. “We set a fast pace last session, garnering more cosponsors down the stretch than ever before in our efforts to get this bill across the finish line. In all seriousness, I look forward to continuing our important bipartisan work to pass this worthy legislation so that we can do right by our equine athletes and ensure that horse racing can thrive as an industry that will capture the public’s imagination for generations to come.”
“As the Representative of the Horse Capital of the World, I am proud to once again introduce the Horseracing Integrity Act with my colleague Congressman Paul Tonko,” said Rep. Andy Barr. “I continue to believe the future prosperity of Kentucky’s signature horseracing industry depends on national uniform standards and testing procedures that are critical to the integrity and safety of the sport. Last Congress, we secured more than 100 cosponsors, and I look forward to building upon this bipartisan work to restore international competitiveness and public confidence in this great American sport.”
“Horse racing is a national industry and it deserves a national regulatory framework,” added Wayne Pacelle, founder of Animal Wellness Action. “We don’t need one more broken-down horse or crippled jockey on an American racetrack. We are pleased to work with so many leaders in the highest ranks of thoroughbred racing put this industry back on course.”
The Horseracing Integrity Act is backed by the Coalition for Horse Racing Integrity, which includes Animal Wellness Action, The Jockey Club, The Breeders’ Cup, The Preakness Stakes (Stronach Group), The Belmont Stakes (New York Racing Association), Keeneland, and the Water Hay Oats Alliance. Uniform oversight and regulation of the industry are needed to stop unethical trainers and veterinarians from doping horses to improve their chances of winning. The Horseracing Integrity Act can achieve this goal.
The horse racing industry has no unified regulatory system, like the NFL and other major sports, and it is governed by a contradictory patchwork of state laws and regulations. Imagine if all 32 professional football teams had different sets of rules in each stadium. That is exactly the situation in each of the 38 state racing jurisdictions throughout the United States. State racing commissions allow various medications and levels of permissible medications that vary widely.