In my first blog on July 17, 2018, I critiqued the position of those in the racing industry who believe that the current regulatory structure is sufficiently independent. In this blog I’ll show you what a truly independent governing body would look like.
In doing so, I will walk through a few provisions of the Horseracing Integrity Act (HIA) to prove my point.
Those who back the status quo are critical of the legislation on the grounds that the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) lacks the necessary experience to participate in the regulation of medication in horse racing. Maybe they haven’t read the legislation, because under the HIA, all levels of regulating anti-doping would be filled from among the most qualified individuals in the racing industry.
Simply stated, the HIA will have greater experience than any individual state racing commission, and without the baggage of conflicts of interest that now permeate the regulation of the sport in several jurisdictions.
The HIA grants authority for developing and administering an anti-doping program for horse racing to the Horseracing Anti-Doping and Medication Control Authority (HADA). The HADA board would be roughly equivalent to a state racing commission, but it would be composed of USADA anti-doping and racing industry experts rather than being composed of state appointees. Specifically, the HIA requires the appointment of six individuals with racing industry experience representing different industry constituents with each member holding at least one of the following credentials:
- expertise in equine anti-doping and medication control regulation,
- significant experience as an owner of racehorses or is a person with expertise in the breeding of racehorses,
- formerly employed as an executive with a racetrack,
- a degree in veterinary medicine and either has expertise in equine veterinary practice with regard to racehorses or expertise in veterinary research in matters affecting racehorses,
- expertise in training racehorses, and
- expertise in riding racehorses as a jockey.
In addition to the six industry representatives, the governing board will include six board member of USADA along with its chief executive officer.
One criterion that distinguishes the proposed makeup of the board from may state racing commissions is a strict conflict of interest provision. The legislative language follows:
To avoid any conflict of interest, no member of the Board shall be— (1) an individual who has a financial interest in or provides goods or services to covered horses; (2) an official or officer of any equine industry representative or serve in any governance or policy making capacity for an equine industry representative; or (3) an employee or have a business or commercial relationship with any of the individuals or organizations described in paragraphs (1) or (2).
HADA is required to establish one or more standing advisory and technical committees, which must include qualified representatives from horse racing industry constituencies, including trainers, owners, the breed registry, veterinarians, regulators, racetracks, testing laboratories, bettors, and jockeys. The committee will provide guidance to the board on the development, maintenance, and administration of the horse racing anti-doping and medication control program.
It is my personal opinion that the Racing Medication and Testing Consortium (RMTC) should be appointed as the primary standing advisory committee to assist HADA with its responsibilities.
The RMTC, established in 2002, is an organization that represents 23 racing stakeholder groups. Most of the progress made in the racing industry regarding medication and testing over the past decade has been a result of efforts of the RMTC.
I would also suggest that HADA request that the RMTC expand to include two additional perspectives — human anti-doping and international horse racing. Human anti-doping expertise should be present at all levels of HADA’s structure, including the ground floor of rulemaking and policy development. The inclusion of individuals with international racing experience would provide the RMTC with a broader worldview. It would also likely lead to greater access to prospective and ongoing anti-doping efforts across the globe.
The should be no ambiguity as to the racing credentials of the employees hired to carry out this legislation. The legislative language follows:
The Authority shall establish an administrative structure and employ among its staff employees with sufficient experience in and knowledge of equine-related and anti-doping and medication control matters as appropriate to carry out the responsibilities set forth in this Act.
Why all the fuss?
So, there you have it. Under the HIA the board would have individuals whose experience represents various stakeholder groups in the horse racing industry unburdened by any conflicts of interest. The people assisting in program development and those responsible for carrying out the anti-doping program are likely now among us, striving to improve the horse racing industry.
There is no commission in the country that has anywhere near the experience, from top to bottom, that the HIA would provide if enacted.
So, why all the fuss from the bill’s opponents?
I believe that when it comes to discussing the merits of the HIA, many of the detractors are being disingenuous by claiming that a lack of experience would hinder anti-doping efforts. That claim masks what is ultimately the uncomfortable truth.
Simply stated, many regulators do not want to give up power and control afforded by the status quo. Other detractors are stakeholders who exert substantial influence with local regulators and are loath to cede that sway to a unified national body.
They have a choice. Fight to hang on to their authority and influence or relinquish it for the greater good of the sport.
And that’s the heart of the matter.