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Horse racing’s new overseer hits speed bump in drug-testing


WASHINGTON (AP) — The new governing body for horse racing won’t be taking over drug-testing enforcement in the 38 U.S. racing states on Jan. 1.

The Federal Trade Commission on Monday declined to approve rules involving the program established by the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Authority. The FTC must approve rules for HISA’s programs before they can be implemented and enforced.

For the time being, HISA said its Anti-Doping and Medication Control (ADMC) program would be put aside.

“We will re-submit the draft ADMC rules to the FTC for their review as soon as these legal uncertainties are resolved, and once approved, we will implement the program through the Horseracing Integrity and Welfare Unit,” HISA said in a statement.

HISA had been planning to launch its drug-testing enforcement unit on Jan. 1. The body would have taken over the testing and enforcement that is currently handled individually by the 38 racing states.

Last month, the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that HISA was unconstitutional. Its decision said that the FTC is “subordinate” to HISA, rather than the other way around. The suit was brought by a group of trainers and owners.

HISA plans to continue to enforce its safety rules, which took effect last July. But states that had been working with HISA to implement its drug-testing enforcement unit, including California and Kentucky, will find themselves still in charge on Jan. 1.

Eric Hamelback, CEO of the National Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association, praised the FTC’s decision.

“The FTC has done the right thing in declining to defy a federal court that has found HISA unconstitutional,” Hamelback said in a statement. “The FTC order is clear: State law continues to govern medication issues until our final victory in this case.”


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