Breeders’ Cup Prohibiting Lasix In Challenge Series Races

Wednesday, February 10, 2021 at 2:15 pm |
Back to: Top News Updated: February 10, 2021 at 2:16 pm
Breeders’ Cup President and CEO Drew Fleming | Breeders’ Cup photo

The 2021 Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” Challenge Series races will be run without Lasix, it was announced Wednesday. Breeders’ Cup officials also revealed that graded stakes points for the purposes of selection by committee into a Breeders’ Cup race will only be awarded for graded races that are contested Lasix-free.
Horses that raced on the ‘Future Stars Friday’ program of the 2020 Breeders’ Cup World Championships were forbidden from running on Lasix, in addition to a large number of juvenile races across the country over the course of the racing season. The passage of the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act (HISA) last December presents a framework for the American horse racing industry going forward. Under HISA, Lasix-free racing will be the standard as of July 2022.
“Even before HISA was signed into law, running the World Championships Lasix-free was a goal of Breeders’ Cup,” said Drew Fleming, President and CEO of Breeders’ Cup Limited. “Extending this standard to all races associated with the Breeders’ Cup World Championships will hopefully set an example for other racetracks and stakeholders to embrace forthcoming safety and integrity measures, including the elimination of race day medication, as a new, safer era for our storied sport approaches.”

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This story was posted in Top News and tagged Breeders’ Cup, Breeders’ Cup Win and You’re In, Drew Fleming, Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act, Lasix.

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Writers’ Room Exclusive: USADA CEO Travis Tygart Explains How His Anti-Doping Team Will Clean Up Racing

Not too long ago, Lance Armstrong was revered as an American hero. The winner of seven straight Tour de France titles, Armstrong brought the sport of cycling into the mainstream and the story of his unprecedented success after recovering from testicular cancer inspired athletes everywhere. But, as the public later found out, it was all built on a lie.
Armstrong was a cheater, and his extensive involvement in an explosive doping scandal tarnished his legacy forever, stripping him of nearly all of his fraudulently-gained athletic accomplishments. The revelations from that scandal rocked the sports world and marked one of the most staggering falls from grace in recent memory. And it likely wouldn’t have happened without the United States Anti-Doping Agency and its CEO, Travis Tygart.
Racing has suffered a fall from grace of its own in the past few years. Once a staple of American culture, the game’s public support has steadily waned since its peak in the mid-20th century. But two massive scandals, one involving the spate of fatal breakdowns at Santa Anita in 2019, the other a bombshell series of FBI indictments alleging reprehensible and widespread drugging of horses that came out last March, plunged the sport into an existential crisis. These tragic public relations nightmares finally shook racing out of the inert fog it had operated under for far too long, and presented a crossroads: either clean up your business, or have it all come crashing down once and for all.

Enter Travis Tygart.
Late last year, the United States Congress, within an omnibus spending bill that included aid for coronavirus relief, passed the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act. It is a plainly groundbreaking piece of legislation for racing, but its most notable provision is that drug enforcement, which has frankly been a running joke in the sport for decades, will soon fall under the purview of USADA and Tygart, arguably the most respected anti-doping authorities in the world.
So what, exactly, does that mean for the future of racing and how it will operate in the new HISA era? In his first public interview since USADA was tasked with an entirely new sport to regulate, Tygart sat down with the crew of the TDN Writers’ Room podcast presented by Keeneland Wednesday. Calling in via Zoom as the Green Group Guest of the Week, Tygart participated in an expansive, candid, illuminating discussion on the transformation we should expect to see in the coming years as he and his crew take the regulatory reins.
“It’s obviously a huge responsibility, but one that we’re fully ready to embrace to learn the nuts and bolts of the industry that we don’t know,” Tygart, who grew up near Ocala, said about USADA entering a new domain in racing. “We’re honored to be part of it. We feel like it’s a tremendous privilege. We recognize that we’re going to have to work every day and every night to prove that we’re the right organization for this. Cheating, honesty, ethics, and the rule of sport are the same across all sports. So while some might want to say there’s a difference between equine anti-doping and medication control programs and what happens in humans, the mentality of cheating and trying to get an advantage against the rules, is the same. So we’re really looking forward to putting in a gold standard program that people in the industry can have a lot of satisfaction and pride in, that it’s being done at the highest levels, with an equal opportunity to win playing by the rules, which is all any athlete–whether you’re a trainer, owner of a horse or a human athlete–can ask for.”
Tygart was invited to speak at the 2012 The Jockey Club Round Table, soon after the Armstrong scandal broke, where he was first introduced to the flimsy anti-doping rules that have proved so inefficient for the sport in America.
“I really started looking at the policies around anti-doping and medication control within the industry and they were just completely antiquated,” he recalled. “They were years behind what the human world, as well as the equine and Thoroughbred horse racing industry around the world had done as far as uniform policies. Other places don’t have 38 different racing jurisdictions run by the states, with frequently conflicted people that have an interest in the outcome without transparency, without good quality testing, without laboratory accreditation that is uniform. It actually reminded me of, and I drew the comparison to, what the Olympic world looked like prior to us coming into existence. So having a uniform policy, where you can have confidence that when a horse runs in California, it’s going to be running under the same rules and allowances and free of drugs as in Kentucky and in New York too, is going to be a game changer I think, right out of the gate.”
Tygart then explained in detail the process that USADA has put in place for human sports, which it will try to replicate in racing. He outlined two keys to its efficacy in particular: getting ahead of new drugs so that trainers can’t just move from doping agent to doping agent before regulators catch up, and a tip line from affected parties in the industry.
“I think it’s really important that we begin the education with the industry on this, and I always get the question,’Well, how’s the testing going to be different?’” he said. “Just to look at testing is, again, an antiquated, old way of looking at modern anti-doping. How you professionalize and ensure that the athletes’ rights and their health and safety are going to be protected, it has to start with education. That’s going to be uniform, education about the rules across the country. It’s going to have to have a research component involved to ensure that things that might not be tested for today in a robust way can be tested for. Any new drugs that are coming out that would tempt trainers or owners to give their horses, for example, are going to also be able to be detected. Then you also have to have a results management process, because we know the science is limited. It’s a complex matrix looking at some of these drugs, some that are endogenous or natural to a human body or a horse body. So, distinguishing what’s synthetic versus what’s endogenous, is sometimes a difficult thing. You have to get that right from a scientific standpoint. That means you have to also have an investigative and an intelligence gathering model.
“We have a whistleblower line. We’re the first to say it takes a team to be successful. So, make the call. Last year in our human world, we had close to 500 tips to our whistleblower line. We have a robust internal process where we investigate each and every one of those. When we direct tests off of that information, we have close to a 22% positivity return, clearly indicating that when the information comes in, it’s handled appropriately, it leads to detection and that feeds what we’re ultimately after, which is deterrence. We don’t want people to cheat, but if it’s too easy to get away with, and there’s no consequence if you get caught, then people will take advantage of that. That’s what we have to stop.”
Tygart undoubtedly faced an avalanche of institutional pushback from the cycling powers that be when he and USADA were working to uncover Armstrong’s doping. He reportedly received death threats during the investigation and had to have additional security provided for him by the FBI. Asked about what kind of resistance he expects from people in racing, he said he has been encouraged by the industry’s response thus far, and noted that there will be an adjustment period for those currently breaking the rules to fall in line.
“We’ve had a lot of interaction over the last eight-plus years with wonderful people in the industry, trainers, owners, breeders, all sides of it, who have asked really tough questions and really good questions, who have embraced the effort,” he said. “The deaths out in California, and then the indictments, I think created this perfect storm that finally loosened some of the entrenched positions, so I think we feel very good that the industry wants this to happen for the most part. There will obviously be those who like the status quo, because it’s been very profitable for them. They’re eventually going to either be weeded out, or change their behavior. They’ll be given a fair opportunity. The rules will change and the enforcement is going to change, but you’ll be given adequate time to change behavior in order to comply with those new rules and prove that you can win the right way.”
Elsewhere on Wednesday’s podcast, the writers previewed a strong holiday weekend racing lineup that includes the return of 2-year-old champion Essential Quality (Tapit). Then, in the West Point Thoroughbreds news segment, they analyzed the continuing positive handle trends and the passage of a historical horse racing reinstatement bill in the Kentucky Senate. Click here to watch the podcast; click here for the audio-only version.

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Navarro, Alleged Doping Co-Conspirators File Motions to Dismiss

By T. D. ThorntonJorge Navarro and Seth Fishman, DVM, the federally indicted trainer and veterinarian whose alleged litanies of racehorse doping date to at least 2002, both filed Feb. 5 motions to dismiss the drug alteration and misbranding conspiracy charges levied against them in United States District Court (Southern District of New York).
According to federal prosecutors, one of their alleged conspiracies involved Navarro allegedly dosing elite-level sprinter X Y Jet “with 50 injections [and] through the mouth” of a performance-enhancing drug (PED) allegedly manufactured and distributed by Fishman before a big win in the 2019 G1  Golden Shaheen in Dubai.
According to wiretaps, Navarro allegedly texted immediate thanks to Fishman for his role in the victory, then four days later allegedly requested “1,000 pills ASAP,” purportedly for use on other horses in his 29% three-year-average win-rate stable.

Ten months later, in January 2020, X Y Jet died suddenly, allegedly from cardiac distress that has never been fully documented.
And two months after that, in March 2020, the feds swooped in.
In a multi-state simultaneous sting, they arrested Navarro, Fishman, and 27 others in an alleged “widespread, corrupt scheme” that centers on Navarro, the 2019 GI Kentucky Derby-disqualified trainer Jason Servis, and a vast network of co-conspirators who allegedly manufactured, mislabeled, rebranded, distributed and administered PEDs to racehorses all across America and in international races.
On Nov. 6, a superseding indictment replaced the version from March, adding wire fraud charges against Servis and two veterinarians involved in the scheme to allegedly drug race horses. Five individuals named in the original indictment were not included in the superseding indictment, raising speculation that the five were cooperating with law enforcement authorities and could testify against the remaining defendants.
A motion to dismiss Counts 1 and 2 of the superseding indictment (both of which deal with drug alteration and misbranding conspiracies) got filed Feb. 5 on behalf of Fishman and Lisa Giannelli. Her role allegedly involved using Fishman’s veterinary license to distribute prescription drugs without a valid prescription.
Soon after the Friday filing, Navarro’s attorney tacked on a letter announcing his client was legally joining the motion to dismiss.
It is possible other defendants will also legally join that original motion. As of Friday night’s  deadline for this story, no related filings were apparent on the federal court database–but there were inaccessible files marked “sealed document placed in vault.”
Fishman is charged in both Counts 1 and 2. Navarro is charged in Count 1, and is charged in Count 3, another alleged drug conspiracy. Giannelli is charged in Count 2.
According to the Feb. 5 memorandum of law in support of the motion to dismiss filed jointly by Fishman and Giannelli’s attorneys, there are three independent grounds for the motion:

“First, Counts 1 and 2 fail to allege that Dr. Fishman, Ms. Giannelli, and their alleged co-conspirators committed acts or conduct that are within the scope of the applicable federal criminal statute, Section 333(a)(2) of the Food Drug and Cosmetic Act (FDCA).


“As discussed…an agreement aimed at the distribution of misbranded and/or adulterated products with the intent to mislead or defraud state racehorse commissions and racetracks is not a federal crime within the scope of the felony provisions of the FDCA.


“Second, application of the rule of lenity bars prosecution of Dr. Fishman and Ms. Giannelli for the conduct alleged in Counts 1 and 2.


“Third, Section 333(a)(2) is unconstitutionally vague as applied to the conduct alleged in Counts 1 and 2.”

One of the supporting sub-points seemingly argues that the yet-to-be-implemented regulatory body borne out of the Horseracing Safety and Integrity Act (HISA) is actually the proper arm of the federal law that should be handling the case.
The memorandum states: “The HISA of 2020 Gives the FTC Plenary Authority over Horse Racing.”

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