A day before the Kentucky Derby, senators announce proposal to ban doping in horse racing

Udall and Wyden will introduce legislation next week

View of a Kentucky Derby horse with handlers at the 142nd Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs on May 7, 2016, in Louisville, Kentucky. Senators introduced legislation Friday that would ban doping in the sport. (Michael Hickey/Getty Images)

A pair of Senate Democrats announced ahead of Saturday’s Kentucky Derby that they’re going to propose legislation to ban doping in horse racing.

Sens. Tom Udall of New Mexico and Ron Wyden of Oregon announced the revival of their legislation on Friday, with bill introduction expected next week.

“This weekend, shielded from the eyes of fans, horses competing in the Kentucky Derby will be injected with painkillers before being loaded into the starting gate. With racehorse death rates higher than in any other country, the U.S. industry has completely failed to self-regulate its doping and corruption abuses,” Udall said in a statement.

[Walden Won’t Give Odds on Horse Racing Bill Leaving the Gate]

The senators want the U.S. Anti-doping Agency to establish a prohibited substances list (along with standards for allowed substances) and set education standards.

On race days, some horses receive a dose of diuretic drug furosemide, or Lasix, which is used to minimize swelling and bleeding in the lungs. The use of race-day drugs is banned in many countries outside the U.S.

“Legislation to ban doping in horseracing is the meaningful action we need to end the abuse of these iconic animals. Headlines around the country make it clear the future of this sport is in serious doubt, and this may be the last chance for meaningful reform — it’s time for industry leaders to take the blinders off,” Udall said.

Among the other pieces of the Udall-Wyden proposal are provisions to end the use of “race day medication,” as well as to provide for the possibility of lifetime bans for repeat offenders of anti-doping rules that the USADA may establish.


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