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'Historic, bipartisan legislation:' Congress approves bill to crack down on racehorse doping

Fair Grounds Horse Racing
Posted at 4:56 PM, Dec 22, 2020

WASHINGTON (AP) — A bill to ban race-day doping of horses and set national medication and track-safety standards for the horse-racing industry is nearing the finish line.

Lawmakers gave final approval to the bill late Monday as part of the massive legislation on spending and pandemic relief.

"With today's passage of HISA in Congress we are in the final stretch of achieving the most transformational and consequential reform of the thoroughbred horseracing industry since enactment of the Interstate Horseracing Act of 1978," said Congressman Andy Barr. "For almost a decade, I have worked with industry stakeholders and my Congressional colleagues to build consensus around reforms that will protect equine athletes and strengthen confidence and international competitiveness in the sport. I am proud to champion this historic, bipartisan legislation with Congressman Paul Tonko and Leader McConnell and I look forward to President Trump signing it into law."

"Kentucky's cherished horseracing traditions deserve to be protected. I'm proud the Senate agreed to my legislation to preserve our signature racing industry and the 24,000 workers who support it," said Senator Mitch McConnell. "With the leadership of Congressman Andy Barr and the partnership of sport leaders, horse advocates, and fans, we're one step closer to promoting fairness and safety across Thoroughbred racing. As Majority Leader, I made this Kentucky-focused legislation a top priority in the Senate. I look forward to this major advancement for our beloved sport becoming law."

Passage of the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act comes after a series of doping scandals and a rash of horse fatalities in recent years. More than two dozen people were charged last March in what authorities described as a widespread international scheme to drug horses to make them run faster.

HISA will be an independent regulatory authority, similar to other professional sports, to enforce medication use and safety protocols.

U.S. Senators Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Dianne Feinstein (D-CA)—Senators representing states with prominent racetracks—were original cosponsors in the Senate.

President Donald Trump is expected to sign the bill in the next few days.