The Consumer Subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee held a major hearing today on the Horseracing Integrity Act (HIA) that brought together horse racing industry heavy weights and representatives from two major animal welfare groups to advocate for passage. Congressman Paul D. Tonko (D-NY) spoke at a hearing Tuesday in support of H.R. 1754: the Horseracing Integrity Act, legislation that would establish a non-governmental anti-doping authority responsible for implementing a national, uniform medication program throughout the sport. Tonko introduced the bill last year with fellow Congressional Horse Caucus co-chair Rep. Andy Barr (R-KY).
“After years working side by side with my friend Congressman Andy Barr to move this legislation forward, I am deeply gratified that our bill to strengthen America's horse racing industry and elevate the health and safety of our equine athletes is advancing through Congress,” Congressman Tonko said. “Establishing a single, national approach to medication testing with strong independent oversight and enforcement will help ensure the long-term viability of this sport of kings. The stakes for this legislation are high, especially for communities we serve with historic ties to horse racing, a sport and industry that represents billions of dollars and thousands of jobs across New York, much of it at and around our legendary Saratoga Race Course.”
The HIA would create a private, independent national horse racing anti-doping authority to be led by the United States Anti-Doping Agency, the official anti-doping agency for the U.S. Olympic, Pan American, and Paralympic sports. A new set of rules, testing procedures, and penalties would replace the current patchwork of regulatory systems that govern horse racing's 38 jurisdictions.
The majority of U.S. House of Representatives are cosponsors of the Horseracing Integrity Act. The bill is also supported by Humane Society of the U.S., New York Racing Association, American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), Animal Welfare Institute, the Water Hay Oats Alliance, the Jockey Club, Animal Wellness Action, the Breeders' Cup, Keeneland Association, the Kentucky Thoroughbred Association, the Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association, the Stronach Group, and some of the nation's top trainers.
“Nothing is more important to NYRA than the health and safety of our equine and human athletes, which we believe is critical to ensuring the long-term integrity and fairness of our sport,” said New York Racing Association President & CEO Dave O'Rourke in a letter to subcommittee leaders. “We believe that the passage of H.R. 1754 is vital to equine health and the integrity of our sport, as well as the many industries it supports. We urge that all racing jurisdictions join NYRA and other major tracks in supporting this legislation.”