The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) “was founded with the aim of bringing consistency to anti-doping policies and regulations within sport organizations and governments… across the world.”  Last week, WADA’s Compliance Review Committee (CRC) recommended that Russia be barred from global sports for four years as punishment for flagrantly violating WADA rules. 

If the WADA board follows the recommendation at its December meeting, Russia athletes will be banned from the 2020 Tokyo Olympics as well as from soccer’s World Cup and other sports.

This is the type of no-nonsense oversight that American horse racing needs if it is to continue as a viable sport.  A Horseracing Anti-Doping and Medication Control Authority (HADA) would have such power under the provisions of the proposed Horseracing Integrity Act, which has been introduced in both the House of Representatives and Senate.  HADA would create a set of uniform anti-doping rules and specify lists of allowed and prohibited substances, thereby replacing the existing hodgepodge of rules in 38 different racing jurisdictions.  The U. S. Anti-Doping Agency would hold six of 13 seats on the HADA board and would be in charge of enforcement.

I am a strong proponent of federalism, in which power is divided between the national government and state and local governments.  In the case of American horse racing, it is abundantly clear to an objective observer that state regulation of medication has been woefully inadequate. There is a pervasive public perception that drugging of racehorses is commonplace and even tolerated.  For this reason, HADA is needed to formulate policy and enforce it with the same degree of courage that WADA’s Compliance Review Committee showed when it decided that not even a world superpower can flout the rules of fair competition with impunity.

Such a straight-and-narrow approach could help steer American horse racing to a brighter future.

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