The Federal Trade Commission has declined to approve rules on a new Anti-Doping and Medication Control (ADMC) program for horse racing.
The Commission voted down the rule modification 3-0-1 with Commissioner Christine S. Wilson abstaining.
The program, established by the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Authority (HISA), is officially now on hold.
Anti-doping program not finished yet
In a statement, the HISA said this isn’t the end of the program.
“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.”
The HISA was planning to launch its unified drug-testing program on January 1. The program was designed to take over drug testing for the 38 US horse racing states.
Currently, each state does its own drug testing.
Organizations support FTC ruling
Despite the existence of a federal framework to standardize drug testing protocol for racehorses, there are some that support the FTC decision.
Eric Hamelback, CEO of the National Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association, called the HISA unconstitutional.
“The FTC has done the right thing in declining to defy a federal court that has found HISA unconstitutional. The FTC order is clear: State law continues to govern medication issues until our final victory in this case.”
In November, a group of horse trainers and owners filed a joint lawsuit against the agency. The US Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that HISA was unconstitutional, saying that the FTC is “subordinate” to HISA rather than the other way around.
According to the FTC:
“Because the next steps in the litigation could render the proposed rule unenforceable in the states that make up the circuit and in those that are plaintiffs in litigation, approving the proposed rule would be inconsistent with the Act’s foundational principle that horseracing rules be uniform across the nation.”
For now, HISA said it plans to continue enforcing safety rules that began last July. Unfortunately for states like California and Kentucky, which have been working diligently with the HISA, they will remain in control of their drug testing programs come January.