Legislation Sets Penalties for Doping of Horses

Newsdate: Mon, 9 May 2011 - 10:06 am
Location: WASHINGTON, D.C.

Rep. Ed Whitfield (R-KY) and Sen. Tom Udall (D-NM) have introduced H.R. 1733/S.B. 886, the Interstate Horse Racing Improvement Act of 2011 which amends the Interstate Horse Racing Act of 1978.

The bill would prohibit anyone from entering a horse in a race that is subject to an interstate off-track wager if the person knows the horse is under the influence of a performance-enhancing drug; or knowingly providing a horse with a performance-enhancing drug if the horse , while under the influence of the drug, will participate in a race that is subject to an interstate off-track wager.

A host racing association could not conduct a horserace “that is the subject of an interstate off-track wager” unless the host racing association has a policy in place that  bans racing of horses that have been given performance enhancing drugs, also bans persons who provide horses that have been given these drugs, and  requires third party testing of the first place horse and another horse chosen at random.

Test results would be reported to the Federal Trade Commission or a host racing commission with which the FTC has entered into an agreement to handle enforcement. The host must also have minimum penalties for those caught in violation.

A first violation would mean a $5,000 civil fine and a minimum 6 months suspension from racing where there is interstate offtrack betting; a second violation would mean a $20,000 civil fine and a suspension of at least 1 year; and a 3rd violation would mean a $50,000 civil fine and a permanent ban from horseracing where there is interstate offtrack betting.

The suspension or permanent ban would mean the violator could not participate in any activities including as a spectator at a race where there is interstate offtrack betting.

It would not matter that the violations were at different tracks or in different states. Each violation regardless of where it occurred would count towards the permanent ban.

Horses given performance enhancing drugs would also be ineligible to race for at least 6 months on a first offense, a minimum of 1 year for a second violation and at least 2 years for each subsequent violation.

A violation would also be considered an unfair or deceptive trade practice, and the FTC would have enforcement authority unless there was an agreement for a state or host racing commission to handle that. Even then, the FTC could still step in and enforce these provisions if the host racing commission does not adequately do so. The FTC would also monitor and handle enforcement with respect to violations occurring in multiple states and in connection with non-profits.

H.R. 1733/S.B. 886 defines performance enhancing drug to mean  any substance capable of affecting the performance of a horse at any time by acting on the nervous system, cardiovascular system, respiratory system, digestive system, urinary system, reproductive system, musculoskeletal system, blood system, immune system (other than licensed vaccines against infectious agents), or endocrine system of the horse.

The bill includes the substances listed in the Alphabetized Listing of Drugs in the January 2010 revision of the Association of Racing Commissioners International, Inc., publication entitled `Uniform Classification Guidelines for Foreign Substances’.”

The Interstate Horseracing Improvement Act is the first Congressional attempt to ban doping in horseracing since similar legislation was considered in the 1980's.

About the Author

Flossie Sellers

As an animal lover since childhood, Flossie was delighted when Mark, the CEO and developer of EquiMed asked her to join his team of contributors.

She enrolled in My Horse University at Michigan State and completed a number of courses in everything related to horse health, nutrition, diseases and conditions, medications, hoof and dental care, barn safety, and first aid.

Staying  up-to-date on the latest developments in horse care and equine health is now a habit, and she enjoys sharing a wealth of information with horse owners everywhere..