Congressman Tonko calls for uniform drug testing standards for racehorses

August 01, 2019 07:30 PM

SARATOGA SPRINGS - Congressman Paul Tonko (D - Amsterdam) considers thoroughbred racing to be a national sport, and to make it better and safer, he believes it "deserves a national solution."

"I think this is critical," Tonko asserted. "It establishes a national standard."


The problem with thoroughbred racing, as most industry insiders see it, is that their sport takes place in 38 different states, and each state has different standards when it comes to drugs and medication used on horses.

"We have to get together to do the right thing for this business," said Nick Zito, a Hall of Fame trainer.

Zito says the sport is facing an "obstacle that must be overcome," a sentiment echoed by horse owner Staci Hancock.

"It's time to clean up our act so our sport can again earn the respect of its fans," Hancock said.

To clean up the sport, a self-regulating panel of anti-doping experts and industry stakeholders would be established to set the standards, to create a list of permitted or prohibited substances. Certain medications will be prohibited within 24 hours of a race, and full disclosure of the guidelines will be made available to breeding stock purchasers and the wagering public.

"The Horseracing Integrity Act is a common sense approach that we have worked on to make certain that the equine athlete is the epicenter of concern and we can improve outcomes.

Co-sponsoring the bill with Tonko is Kentucky Republican Congressman Andy Barr, and so with bipartisan support, Tonko expects the bill to cross the legislative finish line by the end of this year.


WNYT Staff

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