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March 21, 2014

Congress Urged to Act in Response to Investigation of Horseracing Industry

An undercover investigation into the ongoing behind-the-scenes abuses of racehorses by a major trainer in the Thoroughbred industry confirms that the industry continues to be plagued by corruption and animal cruelty, relating to doping and the running of injured horses.  The HSUS believes there is tolerance for a high rate of injuries and horse deaths on the track – with the New York Times revealing that 24 horses die a week on American race tracks.  The investigation was conducted by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals and reported by the New York Times.

Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of The Humane Society of the United States, issued the following statement:

“This is yet another scathing expose of unacceptable abuses of horses, reckless use of performance-enhancing drugs and disregard for any meaningful ethical standards in the industry. It’s apparent a blend of self-regulation and meager state regulation has been a colossal failure. If racing is to be cleaned up and the public’s confidence restored, independent, national oversight–with meaningful penalties for violators—is the only pathway. Congress should act now to pass legislation to rein in the abuses and finally hold the horseracing industry accountable.”

Currently, each state’s racing commission sets its own rules, allowing trainers to escape oversight by simply moving to another state. With no national governing body for the sport, there is no consistency across the country. The Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act, H.R. 2012/S. 973, introduced by Rep. Joseph Pitts, R-Pa., and Sen. Tom Udall, D-N.M., would designate the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency as the independent anti-doping organization for interstate horseraces. The agency would create universal rules on the use of drugs, prohibiting race day medication of horses with performance-enhancing drugs. Any racetrack that wanted to offer “simulcast” wagering would be required to participate. 

The bill includes stiff penalties for cheating, a lifetime ban for the most severe types of doping, and suspensions for rules violations that would apply nationwide. Pacelle testified in favor of the bill at a hearing of the House Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing and Trade on Nov. 21, 2013.

Media Contacts: Stephanie Twining, 240-751-3943, stwining@humanesociety.org

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