NY budget includes authorization for equine medication and testing compact

By: Tom LaMarra

Posted: Jan. 24, 2020

Authorization for the New York State Gaming Commission to join the Interstate Anti-Doping and Drug-Testing Standards is included in the state’s 2020 $178 billion executive budget which was unveiled by Gov. Andrew Cuomo Jan. 21.

The authorization was part of the 2020 executive budget but was removed before final approval. Language in the proposed spending plan states the NYSGC is authorized to enter the compact “to enhance equine drug testing and standardize the ability to maintain the integrity of the racing industry.”

The compact in 2018 passed the legislatures in both Maryland and Delaware. The effort stemmed from discussions by racing stakeholders in the Mid-Atlantic region about a means to quickly facilitate passage of model rules at the same time in member states.

Racing officials in other states in the region have said they would lobby lawmakers to pass compact authorization.

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Cuomo’s executive budget also authorizes the New York Racing Association to use capital funds to finance and construct a new equine drug-testing laboratory. The budget states the lab “is critical for the continued enhancement of testing protocols and laboratory equipment.”

NYRA officials first signaled interest in developing a new lab several years ago. New York’s Equine Drug Testing Program is currently housed at Morrisville State College.

“Horse racing remains an important industry in many communities across New York, but preserving integrity in the sport is paramount to its future success,” Cuomo said in a release. “Increasing the research capability of equine drug testing through this new state-of-the-art lab is critical to this effort and will help ensure a level playing field and consumer confidence once and for all.”

The state contracts for equine drug testing and research services with Morrisville Auxiliary Corporation, a not-for-profit arm of SUNY Morrisville. The release said that while testing undertaken on behalf of the NYSGC “is considered pre-eminent in North America, the structure of equine drug-test funding has limited host facilities in making capital investment into facilities and equipment.”

The proposal continues the requirement that equine drug testing and research services be housed at a state college or at a land grant university. Once constructed, NYRA would be required to enter a long-term lease with the NYSGC, which would then be responsible for operating or contracting to operate the testing and research facility.