Industry faces unique challenges in regulating use of drugs

Horse racing goes hand and hoof with gambling. While it used to be the primary outlet for betting, the sport now competes with various forms of gambling for the entertainment dollar. Unsurprisingly, this competition, together with the creation of many legal gambling forums, results in more races and lengthened racing seasons.

As stakes increased, so did pressure to perform. Horse doping is the illegal application of a substance to improve the horse’s natural capacities prior to a race. Whether horse doping has always been a serious problem kept hidden or whether the issue has recently peaked because of the increased performance pressure characteristic to athletes in other sports, the industry now faces federal demands to curb the sport’s drug use.

On the eve of this year’s Kentucky Derby, thoroughbred industry leaders received letters from U.S. Sen. Tom Udall, D-N.M., and U.S. Rep. Ed Whitfi eld, R-Ky., demanding answers pertaining to the uniformity of medication rules, current practices of enforcement, and the industry’s efforts to collect injury data.

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