From: The Honorable Paul Tonko
Sent By: jeff.morgan@mail.house.gov
Bill: H.R. 3084
Date: 2/22/2016

Dear Colleague,

As Co-Chairmen of the Congressional Horse Caucus, we strongly urge you to co-sponsor H.R. 3084, the Thoroughbred Horseracing Integrity Act of 2015.  H.R. 3084 would authorize the creation of an independent, non-governmental anti-doping authority charged with developing and administering a national uniform medication program for Thoroughbred horseracing.

Horseracing is one of America’s oldest sports, with millions of people participating each year as owners, trainers, jockeys, veterinarians, racetrack employees, industry support professionals, fans and bettors.  The sport contributes approximately $25 billion to the United States economy each year and supports 380,000 domestic jobs.  Thoroughbred horseracing is also truly a national sport.  Approximately fifty percent of the 317,000 starts by Thoroughbred horses in 2014 were made by horses that competed in more than one state and more than 80 percent of wagers are made across state lines.

Despite these statistics, Thoroughbred horseracing in the United States faces significant challenges.  Chief among these is the fact that regulation of the industry is highly fragmented, contributing to disparities in the effectiveness of medication testing and enforcement.  Under existing law, Thoroughbred horseracing labors under a diverse patchwork of conflicting and inconsistent rules governing medication policies and practices across 38 different racing jurisdictions.  This lack of uniformity has impaired interstate commerce, compromised safety for horses and jockeys, and undermined public confidence in the integrity of the sport.  Polls continue to confirm that the use of performance-enhancing drugs and the inadequacy and inconsistency of drug rules, testing and enforcement policies rank as the largest concerns among the sport’s advocates and fans, and therefore pose significant threats to the future of this great industry.

With renewed public interest in Thoroughbred horseracing after American Pharoah captured the first Triple Crown in 37 years, the industry must build upon this success to ensure the highest standards of racing integrity and animal welfare.  Other sports have met and addressed similar challenges by engaging independent, third party organizations to oversee their respective drug testing programs.

While the Thoroughbred industry has worked to address these challenges on a voluntary basis through the development of a National Uniform Medication Program (NUMP), full implementation has been sporadic and inconsistent.  As a result, the perception of unfair competition across the sport persists and the international competitiveness of American Thoroughbred horseracing continues to suffer.  Now is the time to create a national, uniform drug testing and enforcement program for Thoroughbred horseracing.

H.R. 3084 authorizes the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA), a non-profit organization with a proven track record of drug testing and enforcement for Olympic athletes, to create the Thoroughbred Horseracing Anti-Doping Authority (THADA), an independent, non-governmental authority charged with establishing and enforcing national uniform medication rules, including a list of permitted and prohibited substances and methods.  These permitted and prohibited substances and practices will be developed after taking into consideration international anti-doping standards, veterinarian ethical standards, and input from Thoroughbred industry representatives and the public.  THADA will have the responsibility for creating a program for in- and out-of-competition testing, a process to collect samples and the establishment of uniform sanctions for violations.  Importantly, THADA will not act as an agent of the government, will have no authority to impose criminal sanctions, and will not be able to retroactively pursue past doping violations.

In addition, the legislation requires no federal funding and no increase in the takeout to fund THADA; the Thoroughbred horseracing industry will underwrite the entire cost necessary for the establishment and administration of the national uniform medication program.

Please call Eric Bunning (Eric.Bunning@mail.house.gov) at 202-225-4706 with Congressman Barr or Jeff Morgan (Jeff.Morgan@mail.house.gov) at 202-225-5076 with Congressman Tonko if you have any questions or would like to cosponsor.

Sincerely,

Reps. Andy Barr and Paul Tonko