Association sport

Racetrack safety regulations subject to federal review

Certain new rules for horse racing that aim to bring greater uniformity, safety, transparency and efficiency to all state racing jurisdictions will go into effect by July 1. But other rules, particularly those on anti-doping and drug control, are likely to be rolled out. later due to a breakdown in negotiations.

The draft regulations were submitted by the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Authority, an independent, non-governmental entity created by the federal Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act. HISA was charged with approving and implementing racetrack safety standards and rules as well as uniform anti-doping and drug control regulations, drafted under the direction of the United States Anti-Doping Agency.

Last May, HISA announced its nine-member Board of Directors and Standing Advisory Committee members, which included prominent equine veterinarians. With board approval, the HISA Racetrack Safety Standing Committee formally submitted draft racetrack safety regulations to the Federal Trade Commission on December 6, 2021, for public review and comment. after which the FTC will release the final rule with an effective date of July 1, 2022. The Standing Committee on Racetrack Safety had already received feedback from a wide range of regulators, experts, other industry stakeholders and the general public.

Medications and tests

HISA’s Anti-Doping and Medication Control Standing Committee and the United States Anti-Doping Agency have released draft anti-doping and medication control protocols for stakeholder review. The draft regulations address the protocol, list of prohibited substances, standards for laboratories, testing and investigation standards, and arbitration procedures.

It was planned to launch the anti-doping and drug control program in July. Under a proposed alternative structure, out-of-competition testing for racehorses would be administered under the jurisdiction of HISA, while race-day testing would remain under the jurisdiction of state regulators until the start. of 2023, then would move to the jurisdiction of HISA, according to a Dec. 7. 2021, press release.

Other facets of the phased approach to anti-doping and drug control developed by HISA and USADA would:

  • A less disruptive transition to race day testing from the middle of the race season to the start of a new season.
  • State race commissions to more easily synchronize budget cycles.
  • Laboratories have more time to adapt to new standards.
  • Greater opportunities for additional training on new procedures and protocols.
  • Further testing and implementation of new technology solutions needed.

Find a new organization

HISA said in the statement that it intended to file with the FTC the draft final rules for the anti-doping and drug control program by the end of 2021. However, on December 23, HISA announced the suspension of negotiations regarding the potential future of USADA. role as an independent body responsible for the application of the programme. HISA is now seeking a new independent agency to replace USADA and anticipates that this process will allow full implementation of the final anti-doping and drug control rules in early 2023.

According to a Dec. 23 statement from USADA, “We are deeply disappointed to announce that we have been unable to reach an agreement with the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Authority for USADA to become the governing agency. execution of the anti-doping and drug control program for thoroughbred racing under the Horse Racing Integrity and Safety Act. After months of negotiations, we were unable to reach an agreement that met the requirements of the Act and which would have given us a reasonable chance of putting in place a credible and effective program. While we are obviously saddened by the outcome at this stage, we have tried our best to find a way forward, but without success. .

“While we have desperately tried to reach an agreement to implement the program, without compromising our values, we have always said that passing the legislation and finalizing uniform and robust rules are huge wins for the horses and the equine industry. We are honored to have participated in these efforts to restore the integrity of thoroughbred horse racing. Although we don’t know what the future holds for USADA – if any – in this effort, we have offered to help the Authority and other industry players to ensure that the sport gets the program it needs and the horses deserve.

HISA Board Chairman Charles Scheeler said in a statement, “We are deeply grateful for USADA’s hard work, expertise, and leadership in working with the Anti-Doping Committee and the HISA Drugs Authority to develop a comprehensive draft of the rules in a remarkably short time. HISA will continue its search for an independent enforcement agency to oversee drug control protocols. The Authority will also work with the FTC to ensure the racetrack safety program is progressing on schedule.When operational, the program will make critical improvements to protect the health and safety of equine and human athletes.

The urgency of HISA’s work was made even clearer after the horse that won the 2021 Kentucky Derby, Medina Spirit, collapsed and died following training on December 6, 2021 at Santa Anita Park. near Los Angeles. The 3-year-old colt – whose title is under review by the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission because he later tested positive for betamethasone – died suddenly of a heart attack, according to trainer Bob Baffert, which has since been suspended for two years by Churchill. Downs, home of the Kentucky Derby.

The Santa Anita Park veterinary team immediately took blood, hair and urine samples from the horse and sent them to the California Horse Racing Board. A complete necropsy had to be performed. Santa Anita has come under scrutiny in the past for spikes in Thoroughbred deaths resulting from racing or training injuries. The track was closed for most of March 2019 after 23 thoroughbreds died in the space of three months.

The American Association of Equine Practitioners supported the creation of HISA and has a handful of members on HISA committees, although the AAEP has also pushed for greater representation of veterinarians in the regulatory process.

New management

HISA announced on January 11 that Lisa Lazarus will serve as the authority’s CEO, effective February 15.

“I look forward to working with HISA’s impressive and diverse range of independent and industry experts to make racing safer and fairer for all. As someone who has worked with the industry over the my career and as a horse lover, I am honored to take on this role,” Lazarus said in a press release.

Lazarus established and runs the equestrian practice at Morgan Sports Law in London, where she advises on health and safety matters and compliance with the rules in addition to representing equestrian athletes, owners and trainers in litigation before national and international governing bodies.

Prior to joining Morgan Sports Law, she served as General Counsel and then Head of Business Development and Strategy at the Fédération Equestre Internationale, the international governing body for equestrian sports.

She replaces interim CEO Hank Zeitlin.