Rep. Joe Pitts Takes Aim On Horse Doping

Lancaster Inteligencer

An investigation into the horse racing industry recently revealed that an average of 24 horses drop dead each week at racetracks across the country.

Joe Pitts is trying to put a stop to that.

The Republican congressman, who represents Lancaster County in Washington, said Friday he is eager to pass federal legislation that would clean up the sport for good.

Pitts — along with some of his colleagues in the House — is pushing a bipartisan bill that would give the United States Anti-Doping Agency the authority to create a regulatory plan with penalties.

Presently, there is no national agency that oversees the industry and each state has its own doping rules.

“Now is the time to act, and I think the best way to do that is put a single body in place that would come up with a national standard,” Pitts said in a conference call with reporters Friday.

The Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act was written after lawmakers in the House and Senate gathered input from jockeys, veterinarians and horse owners about how the abuse of substances is contributing to increased breakdowns of racehorses and deadly accidents.

The act would give the antidoping agency, known as USADA, the authority to create anti-doping education, research, testing and adjudication programs for horseracing.

It would also:

• End race day medication.

• Set a medication policy framework for all races with interstate simulcast wagering.

• Require stiff penalties for cheating, including “one and done” and lifetime bans for the worst cases.

• Ensure racehorse drug administrations comply with veterinary ethics.

If tracks decline to adopt and adhere to USADA’s rules and penalties under the proposed bill, they would not be allowed to participate in interstate wagering.

Last year, more than $10.8 billion was wagered on American horse racing –including $133 million on the Kentucky Derby.