HISA unveils new anti-doping rules

Under the terms of the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act of 2020, the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Authority (HISA) will establish a uniform anti-doping and controlled medication program to improve the integrity and safety of horseracing in the United States. The proposed rules will go into effect on January 1, 2023.

After HISA’s negotiations with the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) were suspended in December 2021, HISA’s Board of Directors selected Drug Free Sport International (DFS) to build an independent Anti-Doping and Medication Control (ADMC) enforcement agency known as the Horseracing Integrity and Welfare Unit (HIWU). DFS has extensive experience in drug testing and enforcement, including partnerships with the National Football League, National Basketball Association, NCAA, Ladies Professional Golf Association, PGA Tour, Major League Baseball, and NASCAR.

Here, our equine anti-doping attorneys discuss what you need to know about HISA’s Proposed Anti-Doping and Controlled Medication Protocol.

Get Assurance That You Are in Compliance With the New HISA Anti-Doping Rules

The new HISA rules will apply to covered persons, as well as covered horses and horseraces.

Covered Persons

All trainers, owners, breeders, jockeys, racetracks, veterinarians, and persons licensed by a State Racing Commission are considered covered persons. This term also encompasses the agents, assignees, and employees of such persons, as well as any other horse support personnel engaged in the care, treatment, training, or racing of covered horses.

Covered persons must understand the protocol and comply with its rules at all times. They must also cooperate with the Agency in all investigations. This includes making sure covered horses are available for sample collection as needed.

Covered Horses

Any thoroughbred horse, or any other horse made subject to HIWU authority by the election of the applicable State Racing Commission or the breed governing organization, is considered a covered horse from the date of their first workout to the date at which they are deemed retired. If a covered horse is retired from horseracing or suffers a fatal condition while a Results Management process is in progress, the Agency retains jurisdiction.

Covered Horseraces

If a horserace involves covered horses and has a substantial relation to interstate commerce, including any thoroughbred horserace that is the subject of interstate off-track or advance deposit wagers, it is considered a covered horserace.

Understand What HISA’s Prohibited List Includes

The Prohibited List includes:

  • Banned substances prohibited at all times, such as anabolic agents and diuretics or masking agents
  • Banned methods prohibited at all times, such as chemical castration or immunocastration
  • Controlled medication substances prohibited during the race period, such as analgesics and Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs)
  • Controlled medication methods prohibited during the race period, such as the use or administration of an alkalinizing agent

Prohibited substances and methods may be included in the Prohibited List by general category or with specific reference to a particular substance or method. Some prohibited substances will be designated as specified substances, which means they are recognized to have a higher risk of being the result of contamination and thus subject to more flexible sanctions.

The Prohibited List will be updated yearly. Technical documents supporting the Prohibited List will be made available for public review on an annual basis. 

We Explain What Will Be Covered Under the Equine Anti-Doping and Controlled Medication Protocol

HIWU’s Equine Anti-Doping and Controlled Medication Protocol will be divided into two distinct sections: anti-doping rule violations and controlled medication rule violations.

Anti-Doping Rule Violations

Anti-doping rule violations involve banned substances or banned methods, which are substances or methods that should never be in a horse’s system or used on a horse because they serve no legitimate purpose in medical treatment. There is a 10-year statute of limitations for anti-doping rule violations.

Anti-doping rule violations are committed by covered persons, but the consequences apply to the person as well as the covered horse affected by the action. Examples of anti-doping rule violations include:

  • Presence of a banned substance
  • Use or attempted use of a banned substance method
  • Possession of a banned substance or a banned method, unless there is a compelling justification
  • Trafficking or attempted trafficking in any banned substance or method
  • Administration or attempted administration to a covered horse of any banned substance or any banned method
  • Evading or refusing collection of a sample from a covered horse
  • Tampering or attempted tampering with any part of a doping control or medication control
  • Prohibited association with individuals who’ve violated anti-doping protocols
  • Acts intended to discourage or retaliate against reporting to authorities

Sanctions can include:

  • Automatic disqualification of results and disqualification of subsequent results with repayment or surrender of all purses and other compensation, prizes, trophies, points, and rankings
  • Ineligibility for covered horses and covered persons
  • Financial penalties of up to USD 50,000 or 50% of the purse, whichever is greater
  • Payment of some or all of the Agency’s legal costs

Sanctions can be increased when there are aggravating circumstances or the covered person is a repeat offender. A third anti-doping rule violation within a 10-year period can result in a lifetime ban and financial penalties of up to USD 100,000 or 100% of the purse, whichever is greater.

The period of ineligibility for an anti-doping violation can be eliminated when there is no fault or negligence or at least reduced when there is no significant fault or negligence. The Agency may also choose to suspend all or part of the consequences for a covered person (other than the disqualification of results) for reasons unrelated to the degree of fault, such as cooperation with an investigation resulting in the discovery of violations by other covered persons.

Working with an experienced equine lawyer is the best way to minimize the potential consequences of an anti-doping rule violation.

Don't Get Caught in Controlled Medication Rule Violations

Controlled medication rule violations involve controlled medication substances or controlled medication methods determined to have appropriate and therapeutic purposes. These substances may be used outside the race period, except as otherwise provided in the Prohibited List. There is a two-year statute of limitations for controlled medication rule violations.

Examples of controlled medication rule violations can include:

  • Presence of a controlled medication substance
  • Use or attempted use of a controlled medication substance or medication method during the race period
  • Use of a controlled medication substance or method in a manner contrary to horse welfare
  • Possession of controlled medication substances or methods that are not in compliance with applicable state or federal law
  • Tampering or attempted tampering with medication control
  • Assisting, encouraging, aiding, abetting, conspiring, or covering up rule violations

Sanctions can include:

  • Automatic disqualification of results with repayment or surrender of all purses and other compensation, prizes, trophies, points, and rankings
  • Ineligibility for covered horses when the violation involves controlled medication methods
  • Financial penalties of up to USD 5,000 or 5% of the total purse, whichever is greater, for the first violation within two years

Sanctions can be increased when there are aggravating circumstances or prior violations of controlled medication rules.

Similar to anti-doping rule violations, the period of ineligibility for a controlled medication violation can be eliminated when there is no fault or negligence and reduced when there is no significant fault or negligence. The Agency may also choose to suspend all or part of the consequences for a covered person (other than the disqualification of results) for reasons unrelated to the degree of fault, such as cooperation with an investigation resulting in the discovery of violations by other covered persons.

An experienced equine lawyer can help you minimize the potential consequences of a controlled medication rule violation.

Don't Be Confused About Equine Anti-Doping or Controlled Medication Rule Violations

If you have been accused of violating anti-doping or controlled medication rules, you’ll want to speak with our equine anti-doping lawyers as soon as possible to discuss your legal options. Contact us online or call us directly at +1-207-747-5899 to schedule a consultation.