Humane Society, PETA Support USADA Bill

Both the Humane Society of the United States and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals voiced support for re-introduced legislation that would give the United States Anti-Doping Agency oversight of medication issues and drug testing in horse racing.

The HSUS support of the Horseracing Integrity Act was no surprise when the bipartisan legislation was re-introduced May 25 by Congressmen Andy Barr, a Kentucky Republican; and Paul Tonko, a New York Democrat. The HSUS had backed the previous similar legislation, the Thoroughbred Horseracing Integrity Act of 2015 and support of the HSUS was noted by advocates of the legislation when it was reintroduced Thursday.

Later in the day, PETA sent out a release stating it will ask its 6.5 million supporters to call legislators to ask for their support of the bill. PETA had not supported the previous Barr-Tonko legislation but said changes in this bill introduced Thursday that include USADA having oversight of all flat racing breeds and a prohibition of race-day medication, convinced the group to support the legislation.

"If passed, it will go a long way toward protecting horses, because it includes what PETA considers crucial: It now covers Standardbred and Quarter Horse (racing) as well as Thoroughbred racing, it includes a ban on race day medication, and it stops short of codifying medications now in use," said PETA senior vice president Kathy Guillermo.

HSUS president and CEO Wayne Pacelle released a statement that said, "The time for excuse-making is over within the U.S. horse racing industry. Get on board with uniform anti-doping policies or get out of the way."

Pacelle's blog today said his group also liked that the new legislation includes Quarter Horse and Standardbred racing, along with Thoroughbred racing; and calls for a prohibition of race-day medication.

"The Horseracing Integrity Act (H.R. 2651) is a step-up from prior versions of the bill, not least because it seeks to bring regulation to all of horse racing and to ban any same-day drugging of horses," Pacelle wrote in his blog. "In short, the bill is stronger than ever, and animal advocates and players within the industry who care about the sport and the horses should saddle up and get behind it."