The Winds of Change

by Ed Meyer

posted on October 18, 2008 in News | No Comments >>

National Thoroughbred Racing Association (NTRA) President and CEO Alex Waldrop and Thoroughbred racing industry leaders outlined a series of industry-wide safety and integrity reforms at a press conference in New York yesterday. The NTRA also announced the creation of a new Safety and Integrity Alliance, comprised of the largest tracks and horsemen’s groups in the U.S. and Canada, which will be responsible for implementing the reforms. Tommy Thompson, former four-term Governor of Wisconsin and Secretary of Health and Human Services, will serve as independent counsel for the new NTRA Safety and Integrity Alliance.  Governor Thompson will conduct an ongoing review and provide an annual independent and public assessment to the Alliance.

The reform initiatives, the broadest and most comprehensive in the sport’s history, include:

  • uniform medication rules for each racing state
  • ban of steroids from racing competition
  • out-of-competition testing for blood and gene doping agents and pre-race testing
  • uniform penalties for all medication infractions
  • mandatory on-track and non-racing injury reporting
  • mandatory installation of protective inner safety rail
  • mandatory pre- and post-race security
  • adoption of a placement program for Thoroughbreds no longer competing

“Our industry is taking strong, positive steps to ensure the safety and integrity of our sport,” said Waldrop. “Despite challenges and significant short-term and long-term costs, there is an unprecedented level of commitment among Thoroughbred racing’s leadership to see these measures through.”

“Our first priority is to insure the health and safety of the athletes and horses in the racing industry,” said Thompson. “On its own initiative, the NTRA has taken a great step forward in committing to reforms and the creation of an important new body to oversee implementation of the reforms. I will take my independent oversight role seriously and work to assure transparency in this process.”