The Key to Success with the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act

Lasix for horses

Lasix is legal and given to both horses and humans

By Barry Irwin [founder of Team Valor] — The Horseracing Integrity and Safety Authority (HISA) is not scheduled to begin operations until July of next year, but with release of the initial guidelines issued for public consumption last week and any number of Op/Ed pieces appearing in industry trade publications, the direction of the Authority that will steer the ship seems to be given plenty of helpful hints for its future navigation.

As the one who got the ball rolling in a 2004 Op/Ed in The Blood-Horse by urging industry members to consider a way of hiring the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency to oversee drugs in horseracing, I must at this early juncture in the start-up of the Authority register my fears regarding the ultimate success of the new entity and its potentially sweeping changes.

Germination for wishing to get USADA involved in the struggle to rid cheaters from the game was to use CEO Travis Tygart and his team to devise a plan to form an investigative unit capable of discovering through traditional and new-wave policing methods which designer and human drugs were being used to tilt the playing field in North American racing.

If the world of international sport had learned one thing from the 2002 Bay Area Laboratory Co-operative (BALCO) it was that testing was best used not to apprehend suspects but to confirm that they were cheating. The gold standard in catching the crooks was by finding the actual illegal substances first, then developing a test and using that test in the future to nail the bad guys. Testing without knowing what one was testing for was like trying to find a needle in a haystack…

Barry Irwin Discusses What Horse Racing Needs

by author Barry Irwin

In the last 31 of my 50 years in horse racing, I have earned my livelihood forming racing partnerships. I have been able to do this because, in spite of the obstacles and challenges, enough people still want to race horses, so I have been able to continue with my enterprise.

I am involved in one segment of an industry that provides many folks and entities the opportunity to also make a living with Thoroughbreds.

But the number of people interested in the game is shrinking.

As a keen observer as well as a participant, I feel confident in saying that the ongoing contraction of the game is a direct result of cheating by the use of Performance Enhancing Drugs that tilt the playing field in favor of crooked trainers and owners interested in dominating over their rivals by illegal methods.

All of the enterprises in which folks are involved within the industry: breeding, pinhooking, sales companies, racetracks, training, writing, advertising, acting as agents–all of it–is dependent on one simple thing: the integrity of the race. Horseplayers have to feel good about the honesty of a contest to want to bet on the outcome…