Horse racing-U.S. anti-doping program for racehorses to begin next month

By Rory Carroll

(Reuters) – A U.S. anti-doping program for racehorses is poised to take effect from next month, officials from the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Authority (HISA) said on Monday.

HISA’s program will replace the state-by-state patchwork of doping regulations with a centralized testing process, a change that comes after a series of high-profile doping scandals and horse deaths rocked the sport and spurred calls for reform.

The program is expected to receive sign off from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) on March 27 and once that is received, the change will be immediate, HISA CEO Lisa Lazarus told reporters.

“I really don’t think there is anything (that can delay implementation),” Lazarus said.

“The Federal Trade Commission has to approve them… and all indications we’ve received from them is that they will.

“The minute they approve them, state racing commissions are out of the drug testing business and we’re the sole entity responsible in those states where HISA is operating.”

Many of the same people who carry out testing on the state level will continue to do so but under HISA’s regulations, said Ben Mosier, executive director of the Horseracing Integrity & Welfare Unit.

“For the first time ever we’ll have a nationwide intelligence of all the testing that’s done,” Mosier said.

“Horses that travel from state to state, we can now follow those horses.”

Although HISA’s anti-doping program was designed to be national, a Louisiana court stopped HISA from operating in that state and in West Virginia, so those states will not be subject to the regulations when they take effect.

(Reporting by Rory Carroll in Los Angeles)