Legislation calling for a ban on performance-enhancing drugs in horse racing has been sent to the New York Senate Racing, Gaming, and Wagering Committee.
The language in the measure is similar to that of federal legislation that has been floated but not acted upon the past several years. The bill doesn't specifically mention the anti-bleeding medication furosemide, also known as Salix or Lasix. But a memo attached to the bill says its purpose is to "prohibit the use of any performance-enhancing drug, including Lasix, on horses that participate in horse racing in the state of New York."
The bill was introduced Jan. 9 by Democratic Sen. Adriano Espaillat; the Senate is controlled by Republicans. Also, there currently are no co-sponsors and no companion bill in the Assembly. The bill didn't stem from the administration of Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
The legislation states a performance-enhancing drug is "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 agents), or endocrine system of the horse."
It calls for a minimum 180-day suspension upon the first violation, a minimum one-year suspension for a second violation, and "permanent banishment from all activities related to horse racing" for a third violation.
The New York State Racing and Wagering Board, which is about to be folded into a broader Gaming Commission, began taking comments on the use of Salix last year but hasn't acted upon a regulation. Horsemen's groups support a ban on performance-enhancing drugs but strongly oppose a ban on race-day use of Salix.
Tom Precious contributed to this story.