July 12 congressional hearing on racehorse medication in Washington, D.C.,
didn't determine any equine drug policy, but it did show why the industry
struggles to get things right and how lawmakers and others have little grasp on how the
industry works. Here are some of things that were said:
Tom Udall: "Chronic
doping continues unabated."
The statement isn't based in fact. "Doping" refers to
use of illegal drugs that have no place in a racehorse's system, and regulatory
statistics indicate doping is rare.
Martin of the Association of Racing Commissioners International: "This is an issue we believe is
not adequately understood by racing fans or the general public."
This is true. So why doesn't the industry educate the public, and
in some cases the media, rather than allow them to believe and report untruths?
Stirling of the Florida Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association: "Lasix is not performance-enhancing.
On the other hand, blood in the lungs does make horses run slower."
Sheila Lyons, founder of the American College of Veterinary Sports Medicine and
drug has been found to have performance-enhancing effects on racehorses."
So which is it? Maybe both? Isn't it time to put this argument to
rest with comprehensive North American-based research and move on to legitimate
Sheila Lyons: "I
would like to see every horse in every race tested."
She must be out of touch with the Thoroughbred industry's
acknowledgment that fewer, more targeted tests are the best option for
enforcement and would maximize financial investment in testing as stated in the
revisited McKinsey Report.
Gagliano, president of The Jockey Club: "The bill's definition of
'performance-enhancing drug' is extremely vague and is overly broad,
encompassing almost anything, and seeking the technically impossible 'zero
This is a widely accepted view of the proposed Interstate Horse
Racing Improvement Act, which begs the question: Who the heck writes this
legislation, where do they get their information, and do they have a clue?
Gural, operator of The Meadowlands: "There
have been a few in harness racing, but we don't know if 'beards' front for
them. It's rare, and in most cases they surface somewhere else or their
girlfriend becomes the trainer."
This was in response to a
question about how many harness racing trainers have been permanently banned; the
girlfriend scenario actually has happened on several occasions, funny as it sounds.
Irwin, president of Team Valor International: "One would have to look in the (harness racing) hall of
This was in response to Gural's
comments. I guess everyone inducted into other halls of fame is or was clean?
Paulhus, retired executive: "Action
was desperately needed because horse racing had become the single most
dangerous sport in America, with horses snapping legs and dying nearly every
day before horrified fans on racetracks across America.”
Paulhus: "The fact that horses are
dying on American racetracks in record numbers is common knowledge."
These comments--testimony before
Congress--from the former vice president of the Humane Society of the United
States are inflammatory and false. The only thing worse, and probably scarier,
than this misrepresentation is the fact no lawmakers called him out on it. Of
course, there were hardly any lawmakers at the hearing.
Irwin: "He's a candidate for
someone I'd like to wave goodbye to."
This was said during a discussion
of trainer Doug O'Neil, the retired I'll Have Another, and whether some
trainers should be kicked out of the business. O'Neill has become the
industry's whipping boy, and the target of such cheap shots that do nothing to
Gural: "The thing that would solve
this is if we took some of these trainers out in handcuffs."
He's probably right. But doing it
isn't that easy, as Gural also said: "I have more ability
to police than the (New Jersey) State Police does." That sounds like a major impediment to progress.
Tom Udall: "I don't buy the
resources argument. There is plenty of money (to put toward drug testing and
He said this in response to
comments from Martin of RCI that money for regulation is tight. There might be money
for it, but the racing industry has blown a lot of money, and surely Udall
realizes Congress has, too. Just look at the national deficit.
Gural: "We do almost everything
That's probably the case--and
also the real reason why two Congressional hearings that should be needless
have been held this year.