AAEP Urges Caution on Federal Drug Bill

The American Association of Equine Practitioners has expressed concern with “very broad language” in federal legislation geared toward use of performance-enhancing drugs in racehorses.

The legislation, introduced in Congress May 4, apparently doesn’t differentiate between legal therapeutic medications and illegal drugs.

The legislation deals with “any substance capable of affecting the performance of a horse at any time by acting on the nervous system, cardiovascular system, respiratory system, digestive system, urinary system, reproductive system, musculoskeletal system, blood system, immune system—other than licensed vaccines against infectious diseases—or endocrine system” of a racehorse.

Industry officials already have expressed concern over the way the bill reads. If indeed any race-day detection is considered illegal, therapeutic medications legally given to racehorses days before a race could results in serious penalties and ultimately bans from the sport.

“As doctors of veterinary medicine, our primary focus when evaluating the proposed Interstate Horse Racing Improvement Act is its effect on the health and safety of the racehorse,” AAEP president Dr. William Moyer said in a statement released May 6. “The American Association of Equine Practitioners supports the responsible use and regulation of valid therapeutic medications in horse racing. We also support the concept of a national uniform medication policy.

“Racehorses currently compete in a heavily regulated environment with very clear distinctions between illegal drugs and valid medications that provide therapeutic benefit. The very broad language of the bill could eliminate, as written, beneficial treatment of active equine athletes at any time—not just on the day of competition.

“We urge Congress to work with the horse racing industry to learn more about the health-care implications of this bill as it is written and stand ready to assist in that process.”

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