HISA announces suspension of negotiations with USADA

The Horse Racing Integrity and Safety Authority announced on December 23 the suspension of negotiations regarding the potential future role of the United States Anti-Doping Agency as an independent agency for the enforcement of the doping control program. and medicinal HISA. The suspension comes about six months before the implementation of new federal rules governing horse racing begins in stages from July 1.

The Horse Racing Integrity and Safety Act 2020 calls for an independent enforcement body. HISA had entered into good faith negotiations with USADA to fulfill this role, but the two organizations were unable to reach final agreements. To date, USADA has led the draft rule writing process for HISA’s ADMC program.

As stated in the HISA Act, the Authority is evaluating engagement options with other key independent enforcement bodies.

This law states that if the Authority and USADA are unable to reach an agreement, the Authority may do so with “an entity recognized nationally as a drug regulatory agency having the same qualifications as the Anti-Doping Agency. of the United States “for services” in accordance with the Anti-Doping and Horse Racing Drug Control Program “.

USADA is one of the many anti-doping agencies, the Fédération Equestre Internationale, which deals with the fight against doping in equestrian dressage, and the World Anti-Doping Agency, being another. WADA oversees many sports.

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The initial intention to make USADA the anti-doping agency for HISA was well received, with the organization having years of respected investigative work and being the National Anti-Doping Organization in the United States for the Olympics, Paralympics. , Pan Am and Parapan Am. American sportswoman.

The draft racetrack safety regulations submitted to the Federal Trade Commission earlier this month will be implemented as planned by the FTC on July 1 after review, public comment and training periods.

Photo: Skip Dickstein

Travis Tygart, CEO of the US Anti-Doping Agency

“We are deeply disappointed to report that we were unable to reach an agreement with the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Authority for USADA to become the enforcement agency for the anti-doping and drug control program for the races. thoroughbred under the Horse Racing Integrity and Safety Act, “USADA CEO Travis Tygart said in a statement. “After months of negotiations, we were unable to reach an agreement that complied with the requirements of the Act, and which would have given us a reasonable chance of putting in place a credible and effective program. While we are obviously saddened by the outcome at this point, we have done our best to find a way forward, but to no avail.

“While we have desperately tried to come to an agreement to implement the program, without compromising our values, we have always said that the adoption of the legislation and the finalization of uniform and robust rules are huge victories for them. horses and the equine industry. We are honored to have been involved in these efforts to restore the integrity of thoroughbred horse racing. While we are not sure what the future holds for USADA – where appropriate – in this effort, we have offered to help the Authority and others in the industry to ensure that the sport receives the program it needs and that horses deserve. “

The suspension of negotiations comes just weeks after representatives from HISA and USADA spoke at the University of Arizona’s World Racing Symposium on December 7, with Jeff Cook, general counsel for the USADA, outlining some of the proposed rules for drug offenses.

There will be a temporary delay in submitting the draft anti-doping and drug control rules to the FTC until a new independent agency can be identified and an agreement is finalized. This will allow HISA and another independent enforcement body to come to an agreement and build on the progress made to date with USADA. HISA anticipates that this process will allow full implementation of the final ADMC rules in early 2023.

If HISA proceeds with a new anti-doping agency that accepts the proposed rules, it would not start with a clean slate, seen as essential with such a short window before the implementation of HISA.

“We are deeply grateful for the hard work, expertise and leadership of USADA in working with the HISA Anti-Doping and Drugs Committee to develop a comprehensive rule proposal in a remarkably short period of time,” said the chairman of the board of directors of HISA, Charles Scheeler, in a statement from HISA. “HISA will continue its search for an independent enforcement body to oversee drug control protocols. The Authority will also work with the FTC to ensure the racetrack safety program progresses on schedule. When operational, the program will make critical improvements to protect the health and safety of equine and human athletes. “

Jim Gagliano, President and COO of the Jockey Club, a long-time supporter of the implementation of HISA, said: “Obviously we are deeply disappointed, but we will reserve any further comments for this. Stadium. “

Jim Gagliano speaks at the 2017 Jockey Club Roundtable at the Gideon Putnam Hotel on August 13, 2017 in Saratoga Springs, NY
Photo: Photo of the jockeys club

Jim Gagliano, President and Chief Operating Officer of the Jockey Club

Eric Hamelback, CEO of the National Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association, whose organization continued in March to halt implementation of HISA, also released a statement Thursday afternoon.

“The National HBPA continues to strongly support our belief that HISA is an unconstitutional delegation of power to a private organization,” he said. “That said, after the events announced today, we hope that members of the Authority will seriously consider partnering with a law enforcement agency that understands the nuances of the horse racing industry and recognizes the significant progress made by this industry in terms of safety and integrity. This would now be the ideal opportunity for the Authority to reconcile the safety rules that have been put forward with the best of the model rules currently established in United States. “

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