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The Water Hay Oats Alliance (WHOA) Announces Dissolution
March 27, 2023

For a handful of owners and breeders, it all started with a simple idea - to appoint an independent, gold-standard, anti-doping agency to oversee our sport. Today marks the first day of a new age in U.S. horse racing under the jurisdiction of HISA and it's Anti-Doping and Medication Control Committee (ADMC).

For WHOA, it's "mission accomplished", almost. While we can celebrate that against all odds a federal bill was passed bringing national uniformity to drug and medication rules, missing from the equation is the international excellence and independence USADA would have brought to racing.

We have all fought the good fight, but it has been made clear to us through the action and inaction of HISA, that WHOA does not have a seat at the table moving forward. Therefore, WHOA is disbanding.

“It’s not exactly what we wanted, but it’s what we’ve got. Hopefully, it’s a huge step in the right direction, assuming HISA does not become an unwieldy behemoth.” said WHOA co-founder Arthur Hancock.

"While HISA is not perfect, it is certainly a positive addition for racing." added WHOA co-founder George Strawbridge.

"Without the formation of WHOA we would not be where we are today on the door step of a new era for horse racing with the beginning of HISA. No doubt WHOA was the fire that brought necessary change to our industry with national rules and regulations." said WHOA Supporter and Member of the HISA Horsemen's Advisory Group Graham Motion.

Barry Irwin, long time WHOA Supporter and member of the HISA Anti-Doping Medication Control Committee commented, “The fight to get the legislation passed that eventually led to HISA provided me with the greatest challenge of my involvement in racing. It proved to be both the most formidable and satisfying challenge of my life. While WHOA's mission in one sense was not fulfilled, I think we can all stand tall and feel good about doing something that most in the industry doubted could be done.”

"Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good. I urge individual WHOA members to remain a part of the conversation, and to continue to call for program improvements and complete transparency from HISA. They hold the future of our sport and the welfare of our horses and jockeys in their hands." added Staci Hancock, WHOA managing member.

Many Thanks

WHOA members worked hand in glove with Congressmen Andy Barr (R-KY) and Paul Tonko (D-NY) in the House of Representatives. Tirelessly, we worked together to spearhead the push for federal legislation to solve these "whoas" and ultimately helped pass a bill that included the core of our mission.

At the end of the day, WHOA’s membership grew from a handful to over 2,000 industry participants – a mighty force.

Thanks go to each and every member who took a stand and joined our efforts; members who networked with other like-minded associates, who contributed to our Water Hay Oats Political Action Committee, who lobbied their state representatives, who signed amicus briefs to defeat opponents of our efforts in the courts. Thanks go to our over 100 Supporters who shared their celebrity, releasing personal opinions on the issue in public statements. Thanks go to our pro-bono team: Monica Driver and Marcelo Arruda at Equus Media for developing and managing the WHOA website, Ruthie Bowen at the Bell Group for advertising and marketing, and Paul Sullivan at Frost-Brown-Todd for legal advice and direction. Thanks go to Sue Finley at the Thoroughbred Daily News and Ray Paulick at the Paulick Report for keeping WHOA’s efforts alive in the press.

We congratulate the WHOA Supporters who have gone on to serve under the HISA umbrella; Governor Steve Beshear as Vice Chairman of the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Authority Board of Directors, Barry Irwin as a member of the HISA Anti-Doping Medication Control Committee and Mark Casse and Graham Motion as members of the HISA Horsemen's Advisory Group.
The Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act

The Water Hay Oats Alliance (WHOA) is a grassroots movement of like-minded individuals who support the passage of federal legislation to prohibit the use of performance-enhancing drugs in the sport of horse racing. The appointment of an independent anti-doping program run by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) will resolve the problem of widespread drug use in American racing and put U.S. racing jurisdictions in step with international standards.

Doping destroys public confidence in racing, defrauds the betting fan, weakens the genetic pool and, most importantly, puts the life and limb of our equine athletes and their jockeys at risk. It is obvious that after years of committee review and discussion, America’s racing industry cannot police itself by eliminating the proliferation of performance-enhancing drugs in our sport, nor does it possess the power to adequately punish the purveyors of these drugs.