HISA’s Medication Control Program Reportedly Delayed Again

The Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act (HISA) Authority’s Anti-Doping and Medication Control (ADMC) program, which was expected to go into effect May 1 after twice having its start delayed this year, is reportedly now not going to be implemented for an additional three weeks, until May 22, according to comments made by Tom Chuckas at Tuesday’s Pennsylvania Horse Racing Commission meeting.

TDN is attempting to confirm that news with the HISA Authority after hearing the new ADMC start date discussed at the meeting.

Chuckas, the director of Thoroughbred horse racing for the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, brought up the ADMC’s latest delay during his monthly briefing to commissioners about HISA and the Horseracing Integrity and Welfare Unit (HIWU), which is the entity that will operate the ADMC.

“Relaunch was scheduled for May 1,” Chuckas said. “I was contacted [Apr. 21] by HIWU to be advised that based on the Triple Crown, based on multiple tracks opening, that May 1 would not be the launch date. It would be May 22.

“From a commission standpoint, the commission staff, the livestock workers, the vets, and assorted personnel are in place and will continue to do whatever is necessary to maintain Pennsylvania racing,” Chuckas said.

A HISA spokesperson did not respond to email and voicemail requests for an explanation prior to deadline for this story.

Initially, the ADMC program had a Jan. 1, 2023, start date. In mid-December 2002, that date got scrapped when the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) declined to approve the rules that would make the program operational, citing legal issues.

The HISA Authority then ramped up for an expected Mar. 27 start date after receiving FTC clearance. The ADMC went briefly into effect for four days, but on Mar. 31, a federal judge in Texas issued a 30-day injunction that suspended the program. That ruling is part of a long back-and-forth struggle between pro- and anti-HISA forces.

The order out of United States District Court, Northern District of Texas, Lubbock Division, was in response to a motion filed by the National Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association (NHBPA) arguing that the rule violated a provision of the Administrative Procedures Act (APA), which governs the process by which federal agencies develop and issue regulations.

But the court only addressed that 30-day rule required by the APA, and not the NHBPA’s larger claims that HISA remains unconstitutional despite recently added clarifying language.

Back when the Mar. 31 order was issued, Lisa Lazarus, the HISA Authority’s chief executive officer, said, “Obviously we’re disappointed by the decision out of the Lubbock court, but it has to do with the FTC process; it’s not strictly related to HISA. As a result, we’re going to suspend operations for a few days, and get ready to go again on May 1, and hand it over back to the states to essentially run the programs….

“At this point, it’s just 30 days, so we can plan for that, communicate that. So in weighing all the interests, we thought it was best to accept the decision, communicate it, plan for it and use this 30 days to continue to improve our processes. The ruling does make it clear that as of May 1,  we’re operational again,” Lazarus said back on Mar. 31.

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