If this newspaper reported that the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission quietly allowed a trainer to run his horse last week on heroin what would you think?
Or that another horse was allowed to run on Oxycontin and that it was generally accepted to permit some horses to secretly run while using performance enhancing drugs.
You'd want them fired, and rightly so.
But that doesn't happen in Kentucky or in any state as racing regulators are totally uniform in not allowing performance enhancing drugs (PEDs) in a horse when it races, except for one publicly disclosed medication that safeguards the horse.
PEDs are permitted with permission in human sport and nobody ever knows about it. So, why does Congressman Andy Barr want to fire those responsible for racing's strict policies and replace them with those who implement ones far more liberal?
According to the 2015 U.S. Anti-Doping Agency' Guide for Athletes, application can be made for permission to train and compete while taking the following performance enhancing drugs: albuterol, armodafinil, brinzolamide, buprenorphine, buproprion, caffeine, cathine, dextromoramide, diamorphine (heroin), dorzolamide, drospirenone, ephedrine, felypressin, fentanyl, formoterol, Hydrocodone, hydromorphone, insulin, methadone, methyl-ephedrine, mitrgynine, modafinil, morphine, nicotine, oxycodone, oxymorphone, pamabram, pentazocine, pethidine (meperidine), phenylephrine, phenylpropanolamine, pipradrol, pseudoephedrine, salmeterol, selegiline, synephrine, tapentadol, and tramadol.
The 2014 USADA Annual Report shows that 85 percent of the applications they fully process are approved. Nobody knows which athlete in which competition is using which drug. Categories of USADA approvals include narcotics, stimulants and hormones.
So much for clean sport.
Some say we need uniformity. But there's total uniformity to not allow PEDs and substantial uniformity as to when therapeutic medications should stop. Any differences on therapeutics are relatively minor.
Some seek repeal of a 30-year equine welfare policy permitting race-day treatment of a disease that can cause airway lesions or bleeding. They call this "permissive drug policy." Such assertions are hurtful to the sport and polling proves the damage they've done.
Enacting the Barr proposal would remove involvement of the independent regulatory agencies that are publicly accountable and transparent who adhere to public ethics laws and other requirements that safeguard due process and ensure that policy is made in public and not on a whim.
Most scary is the proposal to give a private entity in Colorado unchecked ability to effectively shut down racing by denying authority to simulcast. One doubts any track — even Keeneland — would survive if that were to happen. Kentucky officials would have no say in the matter.
Gov. Steve Beshear had a better idea. He signed a law putting Kentucky in a National Racing Regulatory Interstate Compact. If more states followed Kentucky's lead, many of Barr's stated goals would be achieved. The congressman and this community might be better served focusing on how to make this initiative possible than embracing concepts that may actually make matters worse.