Let the hand wringing and mud slinging begin.
Paul Moran writing for ESPN states:
“When, on March 28, both the incoming and outgoing chairs of the Association of Racing Commissioners International called for a five-year plan to eliminate race-day medication, a possible watershed moment was presented to racing in the United States,” officials of the Jockey Club said in a strongly-worded position statement issued last week. “Perhaps the decades of discussion and dissension will give way, finally, to recognition that American racing medication policies are not only out of step with an increasing number of the world’s racing nations, but out of step with other major league sports in our own backyard. Regardless of the sport and regardless of the country, regulatory authorities, participants, fans and customers are growing increasingly intolerant of the use of performance-altering substances which may influence the outcome of competition.”
Soon after ARCI’s announcement, the statement noted, several organizations spoke up in favor of the ultimate goal of eliminating race-day medication, including the Kentucky Thoroughbred Association, the Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association, Keeneland Association, Breeders’ Cup, Ltd., Thoroughbred Racing Associations of North America, and The Jockey Club. The National Thoroughbred Racing Association, to the astonishment of many, declined to join the chorus.
We were not astonished.
Moran continues with the newest perceived villains to the piece.
Just in time to mount the stage of Derby week, Representative Edward Whitfield, a Kentucky Republican, and Democratic Senator Tom Udall, of New Mexico, are sponsoring companion bills that set out stiff penalties, including — though they are obviously unaware of the legal gyrations necessary to actually impose such a punishment — a permanent ban for trainers whose horses test positive for drugs. The legislation, which apparently lumps illegal drugs and therapeutic medication together without distinction, would create new provisions to the Interstate Horseracing Act of 1978, which permits simulcast wagering to take place across state lines.
How about these words: “Drugs and medications are two distinctly different things . . .”
In the human world, perhaps. However, horses do not line up for prescriptions or choose to risk drug addiction and their side effects. They have no voice in the matter, and they are the ones who suffer the consequences. The unscrupulous drug pushers in horse racing, of which there appear to be a multitude — trainers, veterinarians, breeders — have all the power at the moment, to the serious detriment of the horses and the sport, not to mention the bettors.
And that is what it is all about, isn’t it? The gamblers? With the push to have international gambling where every horse race anywhere can be bet on by anyone, bettors do not want to be defrauded by racehorses who have been doped up or over medicated with little to no disclosure about what they have been given.
Source: “Drug War of the Clueless“, by Paul Moran, ESPN, May 2, 2011.
Related Reading: “Lawmakers seek ban on doping in horse racing“, Associated Press, April 28, 2011