HISA Announces Partnership With Drug Free International In Anti-Doping Control - Horse Racing News | Paulick Report
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HISA Announces Partnership With Drug Free International In Anti-Doping Control

The Horseracing Integrity and Safety Authority's (HISA) Board of Directors has selected Drug Free Sport International (DFS) to build HISA's independent Anti-Doping and Medication Control (ADMC) enforcement agency. The decision followed months of discussions with several highly respected potential enforcement agencies and marks another major milestone in the implementation of the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act.

HISA sought out DFS given its exemplary record of success in its drug testing and enforcement partnerships with leading sports organizations, including the National Football League, NCAA, National Basketball Association, Ladies Professional Golf Association, PGA Tour, NASCAR and Major League Baseball. DFS will establish the Horseracing Integrity and Welfare Unit (HIWU), led by a five-member Advisory Council, to serve as the new ADMC enforcement agency for thoroughbred racing.

“I am thrilled that Drug Free Sport International is partnering with us to serve as HISA's independent ADMC enforcement agency by establishing the Horseracing Integrity and Welfare Unit,” said HISA CEO Lisa Lazarus. “DFS is an established leader as demonstrated by its success and ongoing engagement with several U.S. and international sports organizations and leagues. HISA and HIWU intend to work closely with state racing commissions to establish a comprehensive and robust program that includes uniform testing protocols, adjudication processes and enforcement mechanisms to increase accountability and enhance the integrity of the competition for participants, fans and bettors.”

“We look forward to working with DFS and the Horseracing Integrity and Welfare Unit to level the playing field for the overwhelming majority of racing participants who follow the rules while identifying and holding accountable those who attempt to violate them,” said Adolpho Birch, Chair of HISA's ADMC Committee and Senior Vice President of Business Affairs & Chief Legal Officer for the NFL's Tennessee Titans. “HISA also recognizes and thanks Travis Tygart and USADA for their collaboration and leadership in crafting the proposed regulations that will serve as the foundation for our work moving forward.  Together with their efforts leading to the passage of HISA, they have left an indelible mark on horseracing and horse welfare.”

“On behalf of the entire DFS team, we are excited to expand our work to safeguard the integrity of sport into thoroughbred racing,” said Chris Guinty, CEO of DFS. “Creating a new enforcement agency is a significant task, but we are starting from a strong position thanks to the efforts of so many to date.”

The HIWU will be chaired by Jonathan Taylor QC, a London-based partner and leader of the Sports Group at the international law firm Bird & Bird. Taylor has a deep and extensive background in anti-doping issues in international sports, including previously serving as the chair of the World Anti-Doping Agency's (WADA) Compliance Review Committee, an independent Standing Committee under WADA's Executive Committee. Taylor is also long-standing outside legal counsel to the International Equestrian Federation and the British Horseracing Authority.

“I'm honored to be joining Lisa, Adolpho and the entire HISA team as they work with DFS to develop and implement the first-ever national uniform anti-doping and medication control standards for thoroughbred racing. These standards will meaningfully enhance the integrity of U.S. horseracing and help to ensure a robust future for the sport for generations to come,” said Taylor.

In addition, HISA announced the appointment of four other members of the HIWU Advisory Council, including:

  • Dr. Larry Bowers, former Chief Scientific Officer at USADA; during his time at USADA, Dr. Bowers played a significant role in developing the first ever WADA International Standard for Laboratories and established research funding programs for both USADA and the Partnership for Clean Competition. Prior to joining USADA, Dr. Bowers made groundbreaking contributions to anti-doping science.
  • Dr. Larry Bramlage, DVM, MS, DACVS, equine orthopedic surgeon at Rood & Riddle Equine Hospital; Dr. Bramlage serves on the board of the Grayson-Jockey Club Research Foundation and has received numerous awards, including the American College of Veterinary Surgeons Legends Award, The Jockey Club Gold Medal and a British Equine Veterinary Association's Special Award of Merit, for his work.
  • Sonja Keating, General Counsel, United States Equestrian Federation (USEF); Keating has been with USEF for more than 15 years and previously practiced litigation in the Lexington office of Dinsmore & Shohl, LLP.
  • Günter Younger, Director of Intelligence and Investigations at WADA; prior to joining WADA, Younger served as the Head of the Cybercrime Division at the Bavarian Landeskriminalamt (BLKA), in Germany. During this period, he also served on WADA's three-member Independent Commission that investigated and exposed widespread doping in Russian athletics.

It is expected that the investigative function will be supported by 5 Stones intelligence, a leading professional services company comprised of former DEA, FBI, IRS, ATF, and NYPD Special Agents and Detectives who have led some of the largest and most successful sports investigations in history. Information from 5 Stones played a role in the federal indictments of several dozen people involved in horseracing by the United States District Attorney, Southern District of New York.

“We are deeply grateful to the members of the HIWU Advisory Council and to 5 Stones for lending their expertise and hard-won experience in support of our effort,” said Lazarus.

Working extensively with USADA and a wide range of industry stakeholders, HISA has already developed comprehensive draft ADMC rules. HIWU and HISA will build on that foundation in the coming weeks and will release updated draft rules for industry and public comment later in May. The draft rules will be presented to the HISA Board of Directors for approval and then submitted to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) by July 1 to initiate its rulemaking process with the goal of implementing the FTC-approved program on January 1, 2023.

The Breeders' Cup released the following statement regarding the news: 

“Breeders' Cup strongly supports HISA entering into an agreement with Drug Free Sport International (DFS) to build their independent Anti-Doping and Medication Control enforcement agency. DFS has a long track record of success in drug testing and enforcement at the highest levels of professional sports, including the NFL, NBA, MLB, PGA Tour, LPGA, NASCAR and NCAA, and they will help HISA protect the health and safety of equine athletes and enhance the integrity of racing. We are greatly encouraged by the formation of the new Horseracing Integrity and Welfare Unit (HIWU) and by the exemplary Advisory Council chosen to lead it. From its beginnings, HISA has shown professionalism and leadership, and today the Authority continues to take critically important steps forward in fulfilling its mission. We look forward to the law's full implementation in 2023.”

Keeneland released the following statement: 

“Keeneland stands united with HISA in protecting equine athletes and raising the standard for integrity in racing, and supports HISA's decision to engage the Drug Free Sport International (DFS) to operationalize their Anti-Doping and Medication Control Program. With the expertise of DFS in drug testing and enforcement in sports, we believe today's announcement is a leap forward for HISA and the equine industry.”

NTRA released the following statement: 

“Drug Free Sport is a known leader in drug testing and enforcement in sports and we are thrilled to see HISA partner with this expert organization to operationalize their Anti-Doping and Medication Control program and create the Horseracing Integrity and Welfare Unit,” said NTRA President & CEO Tom Rooney. “We all share HISA's goals of protecting equine athletes and raising the bar for integrity in racing, and with the help of DFS, HISA is well on its way to doing just that. I commend Lisa Lazarus and the entire HISA Authority on all their hard work and due diligence in meeting this important milestone under the law.”

The Jockey Club released the following statement: 

“The Jockey Club applauds today's announcement from the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Authority (HISA), which named Drug Free Sport International (DFS) as the organization to develop HISA's Anti-Doping and Medication Control enforcement agency. DFS has an impressive track record in handling drug testing management in a range of sports, and its partnership with HISA is another critical step toward creating a gold standard of integrity and welfare in Thoroughbred racing. The Jockey Club has believed for years that reforms in safety, integrity, and welfare are necessary for the sustainability of our sport. We look forward to following the progress of DFS and supporting the efforts of DFS and HISA with any resources we can provide.”

USADA released the following statement:

“Obviously, we are disappointed not to be the Anti-Doping Enforcement Agency under HISA. We have worked tirelessly for almost a decade to bring about a national, uniform, robust, and credible anti-doping and medication control program so desperately needed in the sport of horse racing.”

“There are massive challenges to accomplishing this goal – not the least of which are large sections of the industry that are satisfied with the current state-of-affairs – but we wanted to be in the fight to clean up the sport. Unfortunately, we were unable to reach an agreement that would allow us a reasonable chance to successfully deliver our existing gold-standard programs, including adequate testing, education, and investigative capacities. That said, we wish HISA all the best in its efforts to build a new organization with the necessary capabilities and the goal of improving the status quo in the industry.”

The following joint statement was released from the Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association, Inc., Kentucky Thoroughbred Association, and Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association:

“HISA represents a critical turning point for the industry. Its implementation provides the best opportunity for us to change the perception of our sport through our collective efforts to protect the health, safety and welfare of the horse and rider and the integrity of horse racing.

“We commend the HISA Board for its deliberative approach towards the establishment of the most practical and effective Anti-Doping and Medication Control Program of any sport. HISA's partnership with Drug Free Sport International, and the creation of the Horseracing Integrity and Welfare Unit, fulfills the industry's need for an effective, independently controlled enforcement agency that will build upon and improve thoroughbred racing's well-established medication and anti-doping rules, bring long-sought uniformity, oversee and improve our testing system, implement a streamlined but fair adjudicatory process, and develop a new investigative arm that the industry once had but lost.

“While some may be disappointed with HISA's decision, we believe it is entirely consistent with the enabling legislation and the intent of those who were responsible for its development. We look forward to working with the DFSI team and the HISA Board and will offer whatever resources and support we can to fulfill the fundamental goals of equine health and safety and the integrity of racing.”

Statement from the Thoroughbred Horsemen's Associations, KTA, and TOBA: 

“HISA represents a critical turning point for the industry. Its implementation provides the best opportunity for us to change the perception of our sport through our collective efforts to protect the health, safety and welfare of the horse and rider and the integrity of horse racing.

We commend the HISA Board for its deliberative approach towards the establishment of the most practical and effective Anti-Doping and Medication Control Program of any sport. HISA's partnership with Drug Free Sport International, and the creation of the Horseracing Integrity and Welfare Unit, fulfills the industry's need for an effective, independently controlled enforcement agency that will build upon and improve thoroughbred racing's well-established medication and anti-doping rules, bring long-sought uniformity, oversee and improve our testing system, implement a streamlined but fair adjudicatory process, and develop a new investigative arm that the industry once had but lost.

While some may be disappointed with HISA's decision, we believe it is entirely consistent with the enabling legislation and the intent of those who were responsible for its development. We look forward to working with the DFSI team and the HISA Board and will offer whatever resources and support we can to fulfill the fundamental goals of equine health and safety and the integrity of racing.”

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