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…

What We Know about the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act

Lot of Questions Raised

LEXINGTON, Ky. – The federal bill putting in place a national regulatory body for Thoroughbred racing is considered a near certainty for passage later this year, generating timely questions about how the body will function and deliver on its promise of improving the industry’s drug-testing abilities and the safety of its athletes.

Washington DCThe bill, called the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act, was introduced in the Senate last week by Sen. Mitch McConnell, the Majority Leader. On the same day, a House committee that had not called for a vote on similar legislation for the past five years swiftly approved its passage on a bipartisan basis. Officials who support the effort are now confident the legislation will be approved by the end of this year’s lame-duck session, if not sooner.

“I don’t like to quote odds for anyone, but I rate its chances better than they’ve ever been,” said Bill Lear, vice chairman of The Jockey Club, which has made passage of a federal bill overhauling the sport’s regulation a priority since 2014. “I still think there are lots of hurdles to overcome, but I do think with the bipartisan support in both houses, we are in a position where we should get it done by the end of the year.”

While racing officials who have worked on the bill …