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U.S. congress debates doping in horse racing

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Leaders from the horse racing industry spoke before the United States congress to discuss whether the sport needs federal oversight to ban doping. Legislation in the U.S. could be followed by similar bills passed in Europe.

Congress considered legislation regulating horse racing in the 1980’s. Last month, federal authorities arrested members of a Mexican cartel using racehorses bred and trained in the United States for laundering drug money.

Sen. Tom Udall of New Mexico has proposed legislation to ban race-day medication in horse racing. Udall's bill would ban substances such as Lasix, a diuretic that is considered a performance-enhancing drug.

“The chronic abuse of horses with painkillers and other drugs is just plain wrong,” Udall said. “And it is dangerous. An injured horse, feeling no pain, continues to charge down the track. This endangers every horse. It endangers every rider. And, in the long run, it endangers the sport itself ... Congress should not tolerate doping and cheating in interstate horse racing.”

Will the ban of certain substances affect how racing tipsters view certain horses and trainers, and influence how punters wager on meetings? It seems that congressional leaders are focused on three areas: the health of horses, uniformity in rules, and the integrity of the sport.