The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is given broad oversight over the Authority. The FTC, after providing an opportunity for public comment, must approve or disapprove any rule proposed by HISA. Civil sanctions imposed by the Authority for violations of its rules or standards may be appealed to the Commission for review by an Administrative Law Judge and by the Commission.
The Authority must also submit guidance it develops to the Commission. In addition, certain practices involving drugs are made unfair or deceptive practices under Section 5(a) of the FTC Act.
Established when the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act was signed into federal law in 2020, the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Authority (HISA) is responsible for drafting and enforcing uniform safety and integrity rules in Thoroughbred racing in the U.S. Overseen by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), HISA was created to implement, for the first time, a national, uniform set of rules applicable to every Thoroughbred racing participant and racetrack facility. HISA comprises two programs: the Racetrack Safety Program, which took effect July 1, 2022, and the Anti-Doping and Medication Control (ADMC) Program, which took effect May 22, 2023.
The Racetrack Safety Program includes operational safety rules and national racetrack accreditation standards that seek to enhance equine welfare and minimize equine and jockey injury. The Program expands veterinary oversight, imposes surface maintenance and testing requirements, expands jockey safety measures and resources, regulates riding crop use, and implements a void claim rule, among other important measures.
The ADMC Program establishes a centralized testing and results management process and applies uniform penalties for integrity violations efficiently and consistently across the United States. These rules and enforcement mechanisms are administered by a new independent agency, the Horseracing Integrity and Welfare Unit (HIWU), established by Drug Free Sport International (DFSI). HIWU oversees testing, educates stakeholders on the new system, accredits laboratories, investigates potential integrity violations and prosecutes rule breaches.
HISA is led by CEO Lisa Lazarus and governed by a nine-member Board of Directors which consists of five individuals from outside the equine industry (independent directors), and four individuals selected to represent various equine constituencies (industry directors). The Board is chaired by Charles Scheeler.
HISA’s programs are led by committees of experts in their fields from inside and outside of the Thoroughbred racing industry; the ADMC Standing Committee is chaired by Adolpho Birch, and the Racetrack Safety Standing Committee is chaired by Dr. Susan Stover, DVM, Ph.D.
HISA’s Racetrack Safety Program took effect July 1, 2022. Its ADMC Program took effect May 22, 2023.
The Racetrack Safety Program includes safety rules along with operational standards for racetrack accreditation. For example, under HISA’s surface maintenance and measurement standards, tracks are required to execute pre-meet inspections, monitor and test racing surface conditions on a daily basis, and make condition reports and test results available to horsemen and HISA.
Under the ADMC Program, fans see centralized testing and results management processes, shorter turnaround times for investigations/adjudication and uniform penalties that are applied consistently across the country.
The importance of the Racetrack Safety Program to HISA’s mission to protect the wellbeing of equine and human athletes cannot be overstated. The Racetrack Safety Program’s national accreditation standards and safety regulations require:
This 360-degree approach will help vets, horsemen and all racing participants determine every horse is fit to race before setting foot on the track while also increasing understanding of the conditions that contribute to both equine and human injuries and fatalities.
HISA chose DFSI as its partner to establish and implement the Anti-Doping and Medication Control Program because of its exemplary record of success in its drug testing and enforcement partnerships with leading sports organizations, including the NFL, NCAA, NBA, LPGA, PGA Tour, NASCAR and MLB. DFSI is an established leader as demonstrated by its success and ongoing engagement with U.S. and international sports organizations and leagues.
HIWU, established in partnership with DFSI, administers the rules and enforcement mechanisms of HISA's ADMC Program. HIWU oversees testing, educates stakeholders on the new system, accredits laboratories, investigates potential integrity violations and prosecutes rule breaches.
HIWU is led by Executive Director Ben Mosier, who has more than a decade of experience working for DFSI and has overseen anti-doping programs for the NBA, PGA Tour, MLB and NASCAR. A full list of HIWU staff and members of HIWU’s Advisory Council is available on the HIWU website.
HISA and its Standing Committees continue to seek input from a wide range of industry stakeholders, including state racing commissions, racetracks, owners, trainers, breeders, jockeys, equine veterinary groups, horsemen’s groups and others. HISA seeks feedback on its rules both formally and informally, including via the HISA Horsemen’s Advisory Group, which is made up of horseracing industry veterans from across the country who represent a broad range of views and experiences. Included among them are trainers, owners and veterinarians, as well as representatives of racing offices, backstretch employees, farriers and aftercare initiatives.
HISA greatly values input from across the racing as part of its efforts to continue to improve HISA’s programs. Comments and suggestions can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org at any time.
HISA’s Board of Directors consists of nine individuals, five of whom were selected from outside of the equine industry (independent directors), while the other four were selected to represent various equine constituencies (industry directors). The Board is chaired by Charles Scheeler.
The ADMC Standing Committee is chaired by Adolpho Birch, an independent director of the Board, and comprises four independent members and three industry members.
The Racetrack Safety Standing Committee is chaired by Dr. Susan Stover, DVM, Ph.D, an industry director of the Board, and comprises four independent members and three industry members.
In order to conduct their work in an ethical and independent manner, directors and members are subject to strict conflict of interest restrictions in order to serve in their specific roles.
The membership of the Board of Directors and its two standing committees includes certain members who are “independent” and certain members who are from the “equine industry.” Directors, all independent members of standing committees, all officers and all employees must abide by conflict-of-interest mandates in the Act and HISA’s bylaws.
Any member of the Board and any independent member of a standing committee must also satisfy the following conflict of interest restrictions:
Neither the director (industry and independent) or independent member of a committee, that individual’s spouse, domestic partner, mother/father, aunt/uncle, sibling or child may:
These rules do not apply to equine industry representatives of the standing committees, but they do apply to independent members of the standing committees. Additionally, there is no look-back period, allowing potential industry members of the Board of Directors and independent members of the board and its standing committees to divest their interest in Covered Horses or terminate any relationships prohibited by conflict-of-interest policies in the Act and the HISA’s bylaws.
As prescribed in the Act, the two standing committees recommend rules that will be approved by HISA’s Board of Directors. Once a rule is approved by the Board of Directors, it is submitted to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).
Once submitted to the FTC, proposed rules are published to the Federal Register pursuant to the Administrative Procedures Act, and a public comment period begins. After this period, the FTC determines whether or not to approve the submitted rule. The FTC also has the oversight to revise HISA’s rules if needed.
The ADMC Standing Committee advises and assists with establishing the rules and protocols for HISA’s ADMC Program, including:
The Racetrack Safety Standing Committee advises and assists with establishing and implementing HISA’s Racetrack Safety Program, which includes: