Anti-doping program for horse racing begins operations on Monday

United States horse racing’s efforts to clean up its sport and level the playing field will take another step forward on Monday with the implementation of the new anti-doping program.

It’s an attempt to centralize drug testing in horse racing and manage the results, as well as equalize penalties instead of current rules that vary from state to state.

The Horse Racing Integrity and Safety Act was created by the federal government almost three years ago. It has two programs: the first for safety at racetracks, which began to be applied in July, and the drug control and anti-doping program.

“It’s just one rule. You can be in Kentucky, you can be in Ohio, you can be in California and you’re going to be judged by the same standard,” said HISA Director Lisa Lazarus.

The Horse Racing Integrity and Welfare Unit — an independent agency — has reached agreements with state racing commissions and racetracks that will broadcast live starting Monday.

Seven of the largest racing states—Arkansas, California, Florida, Kentucky, Maryland, New York and Pennsylvania, as well as Will Rogers Downs in Oklahoma—will continue to use their current staff to collect samples.

States that have live races after mid-April are in talks with the agency, HISA said.

The agency will work with laboratories in Ohio, Illinois, Colorado, California, Pennsylvania and Kentucky to analyze the samples.

“For the first time, the laboratories will be certified and have the same standards at the national level,” said the executive director of the monitoring agency Ben Moiser.

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Unlike other sports bodies such as the NFL, NBA, MLB and NHL, the 38 racing states had operated under different rules.

But HISA has been contested in its short time of existence.

Last year a federal appeals court ruled that it was unconstitutional and that Congress gave too much power to the group it established to oversee the racetrack industry. Congress changed the original legislation and gave the Federal Trade Commission authority to oversee HISA.

There are other legal challenges in Texas and Louisiana that led to a federal appeals court not allowing HISA to operate, so state regulators will continue to govern the sport.

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