With the anticipated March 27 implementation of the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Authority’s (HISA) Anti-Doping and Medication Control (ADMC) Program approaching, it’s increasingly important for all racing participants to understand how the Program will work. The following are HISA’s answers to five frequently asked questions about the ADMC Program.
1. How will the new HISA ADMC Program impact the lives and workflow of horsemen?
The ADMC Program is designed to create centralized testing and results management processes and apply uniform penalties for violations efficiently and consistently across the country. Its rules will institute uniformity across jurisdictions, consistency in how laboratories test for substances, and swift and efficient adjudication practices.
Under HIWU, all sample collection personnel will receive in-person training on HIWU’s uniform chain of custody process and digital data collection technology. The HIWU app that sample collectors will use will significantly reduce the previously required paperwork involved in the testing process and enable horsemen to receive electronic receipts of their horses’ sample collection.
For the first time, labs across the country will be testing for the same substances at the same levels. The ADMC rules establish separate categories for Prohibited Substances that are allowed outside of race day and other specific periods (i.e., Controlled Medications) and substances that are never allowed to be in a horse (i.e., Banned Substances). This system is meant to appropriately penalize those who use Banned Substances, while being sensible and proportionate when it comes to Controlled Medication violations.
In addition to in-competition testing at racetracks, HIWU will introduce a strategic Out-of-Competition testing program that will incorporate intelligence and data analysis in the selection of Covered Horses. Responsible Persons (i.e., trainers) of Covered Horses selected for Out-of-Competition testing will have the option of either having their horse tested wherever it is currently located, or at another mutually agreed upon site as long as the Covered Horse is made available for testing within six (6) hours of notification.
To support its Investigations Unit, which will work to identify bad actors through intelligence gathering from industry participants and data analysis, HIWU will launch anonymous whistleblower platforms to enable individuals to anonymously submit concerns regarding suspected violations of the ADMC Program.
2. Who is in charge of HIWU, the organization tasked with implementing the ADMC Program?
The Horseracing Integrity & Welfare Unit (HIWU) was established by Drug Free Sport International (DFSI) to be the independent enforcement agency of HISA’s ADMC Program. HIWU is independent from, but in frequent communication with, HISA on the implementation of the ADMC Program. HISA’s ADMC rules are ultimately vetted and approved by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).
HIWU is led by Executive Director Ben Mosier, who has overseen anti-doping programs for the NBA, the PGA Tour, MLB’s Minor League Program, and NASCAR.
HIWU’s chief of operations, Kate Mittelstadt, previously served as director of the Anti-Doping Program for IRONMAN and has held multiple roles with the World Anti-Doping Agency and Association of National Anti-Doping Organizations. Mittelstadt was also one of the first employees hired by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency.
HIWU’s general counsel, Michelle Pujals, was a member of the NBA’s legal department for more than 20 years, where her duties included results management for, and investigations related to, the NBA’s various drug programs and allegations of player and staff misconduct. Before joining HIWU, she was the owner and principal of Tautemo Consulting, LLC, a legal and sports consulting firm.
HIWU Chief of Science Dr. Mary Scollay was most recently the executive director and chief operating officer of the Racing Medication & Testing Consortium, prior to which she worked for more than 30 years as a racing regulatory veterinarian, including 11 years as the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission’s equine medical director.
3. How does the ADMC adjudication process work and what happens if someone is charged with a violation?
Violations under the ADMC Program are categorized as Anti-Doping Rule Violations (ADRV), which involve Banned Substances and Methods, or Controlled Medication Rule Violations (CMRV), which involve Controlled Medications and Methods. There will be harsher penalties associated with ADRVs.
ADRV cases will be heard by an Arbitral Body chosen and appointed to cases by JAMS, a world-renowned arbitration and mediation provider with a panel of retired lawyers and judges who are experienced in anti-doping and sports adjudication. Before selecting individuals to hear cases, JAMS will ensure that there are no conflicts of interest between potential adjudicators and the Covered Person(s) involved.
CMRV cases will be heard by appointees to the Internal Adjudication Panel (IAP), a group of 15-20 members selected by HISA and HIWU based on their previous equine regulatory experience. The IAP pool includes state stewards, who are only permitted to hear cases that do not originate in the state in which they are employed, and others with equine regulatory experience. IAP members will be appointed to hear specific CMRV cases on a rotating basis following conflicts-of-interest checks.
All members of both the Arbitral Body and IAP must undergo initial training and continuing education on the ADMC regulations to be eligible to hear and decide cases.
When charged with an ADRV, Covered Persons and Horses will usually be issued Provisional Suspensions, during which time they will be ineligible to train or race until the matter has been resolved and associated penalties have been served. Covered Persons subject to Provisional Suspension are not permitted to be involved in any activity involving a Covered Horse at a racetrack or public training facility. They can, however, request a timely Provisional Hearing to advocate for lifting the Provisional Suspension.
For most alleged CMRVs, Provisional Suspensions will not be issued unless the Controlled Medication was used within a period of Ineligibility defined in the Prohibited List.
For both ADRV and CMRV cases, Covered Persons are entitled to the opportunity to provide written submissions and present evidence on their behalf to the assigned adjudicator(s).
HIWU is required to publicly disclose the resolution of an ADMC Program case within 20 days of (1) a final decision, (2) a resolution between HIWU and the Covered Person, or (3) the withdrawal of a charge by HIWU. Final decisions of the Arbitral Body and IAP can be appealed to a federal Administrative Law Judge.
ADMC violations that arise from a Post-Race Sample or that occur during the Race Period automatically lead to the disqualification of race-day results. For ADRVs, any other results that the Covered Horse obtained from the date the ADRV first occurred will also be disqualified.
If a horse is disqualified due to an ADRV or CMRV, all purses and other prizes will be forfeited and redistributed accordingly. When possible, the purse for the Covered Horse involved in the alleged violation will be withheld until a resolution has been reached.
While the purse will be affected by ADMC violations and disqualifications, the wagering payouts that are published after a race is declared official on race day are the final payouts, regardless of any disqualifications subsequently issued.
4. How are HISA and HIWU preparing the sport for implementation of the rules?
HIWU staff have so far visited all racetracks that will be racing on March 27 and met with local test barn staff, veterinarians, stewards, and other personnel to observe current practices, evaluate test barn facilities, and help prepare personnel on the ground for the implementation of the ADMC Program. HIWU will visit each racetrack prior to their next meet start date after March 27 and hold in-person training events for test barn personnel prior to collections being conducted at each location. Over the last several months, the HIWU team has also met with industry stakeholder groups in-person and virtually to discuss the ADMC Program and answer questions.
HIWU plans to visit numerous tracks ahead of the expected March 27 implementation date to talk to stakeholders and encourages industry organizations interested in hosting informational sessions where members can speak with the HIWU team to email [email protected] to request to schedule a virtual or in-person meeting. Visits and outreach will continue after implementation, as well.
The HIWU website is also home to educational material on the Prohibited List, Detection Times and Screening Limits, test types, results management, and more. Additional educational materials will continue to be published and shared broadly with the industry.
5. How will the ADMC rules improve racing and help the sport grow?
The ADMC Program is central to HISA’s mission to ensure the integrity of racing to the benefit of participants, fans, and bettors. HISA’s rules are designed to improve the safety and welfare of horses and restore public trust in the sport.
Bettors will be able to trust that the product on the track is fair and that cheaters are not welcome in Thoroughbred racing. All signs indicate that the enforcement of consistent, national ADMC rules will ultimately lead to broader public interest, including from younger audiences, and increased wagering.
Importantly, besides making the sport safer and fairer, the ADMC Program will also make the jobs of many horsemen easier as the patchwork of state-by-state rules are replaced with a unified, streamlined anti-doping regulatory system.