R. Reynolds Cowles, DVM, president of the American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP), has issued a statement indicating that the organization opposes the recently introduced Horseracing Integrity Act of 2017 (HR 2651).

Introduced in late May by Representatives Andy Barr (R-KY) and Paul Tonko (D-NY), the bill would create a new Horseracing Anti-Doping and Medication Authority and uniform racing medication rules. The pair had previously introduced similar legislation that only applied to Thoroughbred racing. The new version legislation would apply to Quarter Horse and Standardbred races, as well as Thoroughbred competitions, and prohibit the use of any substance within 24 hours of a race, including furosemide. Furosemide (also known as Salix or Lasix) is used to lessen the effects of a respiratory condition called exercise-induced pulmonary hemorrhage (EIPH), characterized by bleeding into the lungs or out the nose during exercise.

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Cowles said in his statement that while the AAEP supports uniform medication rules in U.S. horse racing, it opposes the newest version of the legislation association opposes the newest version of the legislation.

“The AAEP’s current policy on race-day medication administration endorses the use of furosemide to help mitigate the occurrence of EIPH in the racehorse,” he said. “This policy is based on the overwhelming body of international scientific and clinical evidence.

“HR 2651 seeks to end the administration of furosemide on race day, which conflicts with the AAEP’s long-held position,” he continued. “While we are optimistic that current research projects will yield an alternative treatment for EIPH which does not require race-day administration, as doctors of veterinary medicine we cannot abandon our current policy until science provides an efficacious option for protecting the health and welfare of the horse.”

Cowles also said the AAEP is concerned about the United States Anti-Doping Agency’s ability “to regulate a sport which has far more participants than any sport they currently oversee … but we are pleased with the change to the legislation’s proposed structure which allows for the inclusion of a veterinarian as part of the governing body. We also are pleased with the expansion of the bill’s language to clearly delineate the role of therapeutic medication and a formal anti-doping program.

“We appreciate the opportunity provided to us previously by Representative Barr to offer input on the legislation in the areas of governance and veterinary involvement. Although our suggestions were not incorporated into this version of the bill, the AAEP wishes to continue to serve as a resource to Representative Barr and Representative Tonko as issues affecting the health and the welfare of the racehorse are considered.”