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Racehorse Owners, Trainers Get Quick Review of Anti-Doping Law

July 5, 2022, 3:34 PM

Thoroughbred racehorse owners and trainers will get a fast track hearing in the Fifth Circuit on their challenge to the federal Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act, an anti-doping law they say unconstitutionally delegates regulatory power to a private entity.

Signed into law on Dec. 27, 2020, the act created the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Authority to develop and implement an anti-doping and medication control program and a racetrack safety program, under the oversight of the Federal Trade Commission. The law requires the authority to submit to the FTC any proposed rule, standard, or procedure to carry out the programs.

The plaintiffs, the National Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association and several of its state chapters, allege the law unconstitutionally delegates the power to regulate them, including for the use of performance enhancing equine drugs, to the HISA Board.

The US District Court for the Northern District of Texas in March ruled that the act “stays within current constitutional boundaries” by providing standards that confine the discretion of the FTC and the authority, and making the authority subordinate to the FTC.

Judge Edith H. Jones of the US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit July 1 granted the plaintiffs’ motion to expedite the appeal, directing the clerk’s office to assign the case to a merits panel sitting during the week of Aug. 29, 2022.

The plaintiffs, in their June 29 motion, asked the court to expedite the appeal in order to receive a judgment by Jan. 1. 2023, “before the all-important anti-doping and medication control regulations are set to take effect.”

The state of Texas filed a brief as an intervenor plaintiff urging the appeals court to reverse the trial court ruling, saying the HISA “allows one private citizen to regulate the livelihood of another.”

The law gained traction after a rash of thoroughbred deaths increased pressure on Congress to pass uniform nationwide anti-doping standards and testing.

Bustos Law Firm PC and Liberty Justice Center represent the plaintiffs. Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP represents the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Authority Inc. The Justice Department represents the FTC.

The case is Nat’l Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Ass’n. v. Black, 5th Cir., No. 22-10387, 7/1/22.

To contact the reporter on this story: Peter Hayes in Washington at PHayes@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Rob Tricchinelli at rtricchinelli@bloomberglaw.com; Andrew Harris at aharris@bloomberglaw.com