HISA drug rules stayed by Texas judge

Northern District of Texas federal judge James Hendrix issued a ruling March 31 to stop the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Authority (HISA) from implementing its new drug rules, known as its Anti-Doping and Medication Control (ADMC) program.

He issued the ruling to apply nationwide for the next 30 days in response to a request from the National Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association (HBPA) and 13 of its state affiliates

On Monday, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) approved the ADMC rules to go into effect immediately. Later Monday, HBPA requested relief based upon showing that irreparable harm would be suffered by horsemen should the ADMC rules become effective immediately. 

The HBPA argued that enforcing new rushed medication rules prior to the running of the Florida Derby and Arkansas Derby and several other races this weekend would cause harm. Additionally, the HBPA claimed that the new rules should, under the Administrative Procedures Act, have had a lag before taking effect. This evening, the court granted its motion to enjoin the Authority and FTC from implementing and enforcing the ADMC rules prior to May 1, 2023.

“We are very pleased that the National HBPA has defeated HISA in the courts yet again,” stated National HBPA CEO Eric Hamelback. “It was reckless and irresponsible of the Authority and the FTC to rush to implement these brand-new rules this weekend.

“Horsemen need time, and we were glad to stand for them once again. The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that HISA was unconstitutional in our lawsuit before, and we expect they will do so again.”

Today’s ruling marks the third victory for the National HBPA over the Authority and the FTC. On November 18, 2022, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled HISA unconstitutional. On January 31, 2023, the Fifth Circuit declined to vacate its earlier ruling after a legislative tweak from Congress sought to vest more authority in the Federal Trade Commission to oversee HISA.