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Martin Reiterates Call For Changes

Published: July 25, 2018 4:27 pm ET

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Developments in Ireland designed to bolster out-of-competition testing and the exclusion of certain horses underscores the need for the U.S. racing industry to support ARCI’s call last December for an expansion of regulatory authority over horses that have yet to come under the jurisdiction of a racing commission, according to the group’s president.

“We applaud Horse Racing Ireland and its chief Brian Kavanagh for their creative effort to get access to horses on unlicensed grounds,” said ARCI President Ed Martin.

Last December, the ARCI made a general call to expand the government’s authority in order to close what many regulators consider to be a major loophole in independent oversight of the unregulated aspects of the racehorse industry. The impetus for that proposal came from the reported widespread use of bisphosphonates in young horses despite government warnings that such use may not be safe.

Consistent with this general call, Martin, in written testimony before a congressional subcommittee earlier this year, offered several suggestions to Members of Congress seeking to help the racing industry.

Martin proposed:

  • Requiring all horses bred to be racehorses be registered with and come under the jurisdiction of the Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS)

  • Empowering APHIS to make rules affecting young horses not yet under the jurisdiction of a state racing commission

  • Directing APHIS to contract with state racing commissions for the purpose of out-of-competition equine welfare and anti-doping examinations to determine adherence to the APHIS rules

  • Authorizing APHIS to recover costs for such inspections from the owners of any horse inspected, consistent with state racing commission contracts entered into for that purpose

  • Require that a portion of the existing funds - $9.5 million - appropriated by Congress each year for anti-doping programs through the White House Office of National Drug Policy be available to fund anti-doping research of the Racing Medication and Testing Consortium consistent with anti-doping needs identified by the Organization of Racing Investigators or the ARCI

The limitations on regulatory authority as well as equine welfare concerns about the use of Bisphosphonate drugs on young horses were main topics at the ARCI Integrity and Animal Welfare Conference last April in Hot Springs, Arkansas.

The ARCI has not taken a formal position on Martin’s suggestions but is open to working with appropriate industry organizations to develop ways to regulate young horses and address specific jurisdictional limitations where they occur.

U.S. Federal Law grants wide authority to licensed veterinarians to use substances in horses that have been approved by the FDA for other species. That authority continues even if the government has issued cautionary statements. This broad authority affects not only the use of bisphosphonates on young horses, but also the steroids that have triggered the actions of Horse Racing Ireland.

None of the federal bills proposed during the last decade affecting horse racing address this issue.


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