Steroid ban for
horse racing is near
LEXINGTON, Kentucky (AP) - The U.S.
Congress has expanded itsprobe into doping in sports to include
horse racing, with one of the industry's top officials defending
what he called a much improved, albeit still imperfect, system
Alexander Waldrop, president of the National Thoroughbred
Racing Association, told a congressional panel on Wednesday that
by the endof the year, he expects virtually all major racing
states to adopt aban on the use of steroids for horses at least
a month before they appear on the track.
"Is our testing protocol perfect? No," Waldrop told the House
Energy and Commerce Committee's panel on commerce, trade
andconsumer protection. "Can it be improved? Absolutely. But the
major industry stakeholders are united in their commitment to
address drug and medication issues on a national basis."
Waldrop said horses are already subjected to the most
rigorous drug testing in sports, although most of those tests
focus primarily on drugs perceived to have a greater influence
on performance. While steroids are sometimes important for
training, Waldrop said thepractice by some trainers of putting
horses on excessive regimens close to race days must be stopped.
Despite those assurances, some lawmakers - including Ed
Whitfield of Kentucky - argued horse racing lags far behind
other sports in dealing with the problem of
Whitfield suggested that if the sport doesn't take more
aggressive steps to rid itself of steroids, the federal
government might mandate the changes.
"Is it time to call the federal cavalry and send it chasing
into your stables with guns blazing to clean up the sport of
horseracing?" Whitfield said.
Although Whitfield didn't advocate any changes to current
federal law, he asked hypothetically whether it would be
appropriate to deny simulcasting rights to a state that refuses
to comply with a steroid ban.
"No, that would not be unreasonable," Waldrop said.
Later, Waldrop pointed out that weakening the
InterstateHorseracing Act, which allows tracks to broadcast
offsite races andcollect bets, would essentially weaken the
rights of states, eventhough the law was designed to strengthen
Waldrop said a model rule that puts restrictions on steroid
use30 days before a race has already been adopted in Arizona,
Arkansas,California, Colorado, Delaware, Illinois, Indiana,
Iowa, New York,Pennsylvania, Virginia and Washington.
Several other states - including Florida, Kentucky, Maryland
andTexas - are expected to approve the rules by the end of the
Congressman Joe Pitts asked why some states have delayed
Waldrop said that while a urine test currently exists, there
isstill some scientific disagreement about a plasma or blood
test,which he thinks should be available this summer.
"We're seeing compliance and support we've never seen
before,"Waldrop said. "I've yet to hear a horseman say we do not
want tostop the use of steroids. What they say is we want to
Waldrop was among several sports figures to testify
beforelawmakers who say they might try again to legislate drug-testingpolicies.
He said it was the first time he or any NTRA official
hasappeared before Congress to discuss the issue.