While the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Authority (HISA) began rolling out regulatory projects to the Federal Trade Commission ahead of its scheduled start on July 1, 2022, the agency was created through federal law to regulate anti-doping and safety policies for thoroughbreds. the race dominated discussions on the opening day of the 47e Annual World Racing Symposium at Loews Ventana Canyon in Tucson, Arizona, Tuesday. The Symposium is organized by the Race Track Industry Program at the University of Arizona under the direction of its new president, Robert Hartman, program graduate and former racing industry executive.
Here are some takeaways from the day’s presentations and discussions, which included four segments focused on HISA, an opening speech from the new President and CEO of the National Thoroughbred Racing Associations, Tom Rooney, and a high-level panel. featuring senior executives from four major racetrack organizations: 1 / ST Racing (The Stronach Group), Del Mar, Keeneland and the New York Racing Association.
HISA drug testing to be phased in
Charles Scheeler, the president of HISA, described the progress the organization has made during a very tight timeline from the adoption of the legislation in December 2020 until its mandated launch on July 1. A board of directors and chairman were appointed in May 2021, with interim staff including a CEO hired in July, when meetings and collaboration with the alleged enforcement arm, the United States Anti-Doping Agency. (USADA), have started. In September, discussions with stakeholders began, along with meetings with current state regulators. HISA presented its proposed draft safety regulations to the FTC on the eve of the Symposium. He requested and obtained a waiver from the FTC to delay submission of the proposed anti-doping and drug policies for at least 10 days (until December 16). Doping / drug rule drafts shared with industry organizations drew a lot of comments. The FTC will conduct a public registry review in January and February and the rules must be approved by March 1, four months before HISA launches.
Scheeler said the final approved settlement “won’t be perfect” or “written in stone.”
When HISA begins operations on July 1, it will only perform out-of-competition testing, leaving post-race testing and the adjudication of any violation of those tests in the hands of state racing commissions for the remainder of the day. ‘year. Scheeler said HISA will take over post-race testing on January 1, 2023. HISA will rule on any violations found during out-of-competition testing.
Scheeler said HISA also hopes to work with the race commissions when it begins post-race testing to use existing staff for race day blood and urine collections, adding that if something is not not broken, HISA is not interested in fixing it.
Technology and Big Data will be essential
Scheeler and Dr. Susan Stover, HISA Board Member and Racetrack Safety Committee Chair, spoke about the importance of technology and data to the success of HISA. The “transformational database” Scheeler mentioned would include information on who’s covered and horses covered and provide trainers and owners with an interface to report whenever a horse’s location changes, an important element for testing. out of competition.
Stover, whose groundbreaking research at the University of California-Davis shed light on injury prevention, said the ability to collect comprehensive data is extremely important for running to reduce the rate of fatal or serious injuries and that the sport maintain what it called its Social License to Operate (SLO) with the public.
Stover pointed out that the United States has reduced its fatal injury rate per thousand starts by 40% in recent years, but still has a higher rate than in the United Kingdom, Australia / New Zealand and Hong Kong. “We have work to do,” she said.
Deaths aren’t the only concern for Stover, who said 3% of horses on the tracks are taken out of training each month, an attrition rate she estimated costs owners nearly $ 82 million. horses every month.
Some form of pre-existing disease has been detected in almost 90% of the fatally injured horses she has examined over the years, Stover said. Factors that led to an increased risk included corticosteroid injections, recent lameness, and abnormalities in pre-race exams. Stover said the data collected on training intensity (speed works over longer distances) could help HISA develop best training practices, especially for licensed horses.
Racetrack accreditations by HISA will be phased in, with tracks currently accredited by NTRA obtaining a provisional three-year accreditation with HISA, provided they make good faith efforts in certain areas and meet data reporting requirements.
Ann McGovern, a member of the Racetrack Safety Committee, said in response to a question from the public that tracks that are not accredited will lose their ability to place interstate bets.
The HISA / USADA price tag remains a mystery
Scheeler said that HISA was not yet able to submit a budget for HISA’s operations, in part because it does not have a contract with USADA. The costs, he said, would also depend in part on how things are worked out with state racing commissions. “It will cost money,” Scheeler said, “but it’s an investment.” He compared the industry’s failure to advance safety and anti-doping programs to crumbling bridges and roads due to lack of investment in infrastructure. Part of that investment will go into what Scheeler described as a “powerful and rigorous investigation program” similar to the 5Stones investigation unit hired by the Jockey Club which has investigated numerous trainers, vets and training providers. drugs that were charged with federal charges in March 2020.
In a separate panel, Ed Martin, president of the Association of Racing Commissioners International, said the wording of the bill that created HISA was flawed because it did not require state racing commissioners to contribute funding. “They made a mistake with this bill,” Martin said. “They allowed the states to move away.” Martin suggested that state budget managers withdraw funding for horse racing regulations and drug testing once they find out they are not required to help fund the HISA. .
List of therapeutic drugs still under development
A group including Adolpho Birch, member of the HISA board of directors and chairman of the anti-doping and drug control committee, looked at how drug violations will be judged, separating out primary (most serious) positive drugs. and secondary (therapeutic).
Jeff Cook, general counsel for USADA, said the goal would be to adjudicate cases more quickly: four weeks when doping violations for secondary drugs are disputed and eight weeks for primary drugs. A national panel of commissioners will judge secondary cases with an adjudicator used for the most serious violations. Cases can also be appealed to an FTC administrative judge.
Two notable changes from the current process are that split samples would not go to a laboratory chosen by the trainer and that public disclosure of complaints can take place as soon as the trainer is notified.
Birch, general counsel for the Tennessee Titans, was previously the NFL’s top anti-doping official and helped draft the league’s anti-doping policies. Birch said the NFL struggled to control the widespread use of performance-enhancing drugs, with some players dying of drugs and others feeling the need to cheat in order to compete. “If we don’t change,” he said, “the sport will suffer irreparably.”
USADA director of equine science Dr. Tessa Muir said the HISA’s Doping and Drug Control Committee was still drafting a list of therapeutic drugs and screening limits for those drugs.
Mr. Rooney returns to Washington
In his keynote address – his first as president and CEO of the NTRA – former Florida Congressman Tom Rooney said his mission will be to represent the equestrian industry in Washington, DC, where he has served five terms in the House of Representatives, from 2009 to 19.
Rooney succeeds Alex Waldrop, who served as NTRA’s chief executive for 15 years. Waldrop was honored on Tuesday by the Race Track Industry Program with the Clay Puett Award for his outstanding contributions to the industry.
Coming from a family that owned the NFL Pittsburgh Steelers and involved in thoroughbred, standardbred and greyhound racing, Rooney brings a solid resume to the role. As a former congressman, he understands how important it is to have an industry representative in the nation’s capital.
It’s never more important than it is today, he said, referring to high-profile events like the sudden death of Medina Spirit, the Kentucky Derby’s first, and the fact that “our opponents are not gone and they will never, ever go. a way.”
Rooney’s family owns the Palm Beach Kennel Club in Florida, where greyhound racing was recently eliminated in a statewide vote.
Rooney said he would work to support a smooth transition to HISA, help races benefit from sports betting and maintain favorable tax benefits for horse owners.
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