Edited Press Release — The Horseracing Integrity and Safety Authority’s board of directors recently held its inaugural meeting and elected Charles Scheeler as chairperson of the board. This meeting marks a major step in the operational and organizational transition of the Authority from the nomination and selection process to the critical work of developing uniform safety and integrity rules for the horse racing industry.
“I’m honored to be selected by my fellow board members as the first chairperson of the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Authority. We have a monumental task ahead of us, and I want to thank the nominating committee for bringing together this outstanding group of individuals whose inherent integrity and combined expertise give me confidence in our ability to meet the challenge,” said Scheeler. “All eyes are on the thoroughbred industry as we move into the third leg of the Triple Crown, and on behalf of the board and its standing committees, I’d like to express our unwavering commitment to our mission to protect the wellbeing of human and equine athletes and the integrity of the sport.
Charles Scheeler is a retired partner at DLA Piper. His extensive background includes serving as lead counsel to former Senator George Mitchell in connection with his independent investigation of performance-enhancing substance use in Major League Baseball (the Mitchell Report). He also served as the monitor of the Pennsylvania State University investigation relating to compliance with its obligations under the Athletics Integrity Agreement with the National Collegiate Athletics Association and Big Ten Conference. Additionally, Scheeler led an investigation by an independent commission examining health and safety practices within the University of Maryland football program. The resulting report recommended an array of best practices designed to place the university at the forefront of student-athlete health and safety.
“Charles Scheeler is the right choice as the Authority’s first board chair and brings a wealth of experience and leadership to the role,” said Authority board member Leonard Coleman. “His deep background and exceedingly positive reputation on issues of critical importance in sports speak for themselves, making him a strong nominee for the board. I’m very pleased to see him take on this expanded role.”
Coleman was also co-chair of the Authority’s blue-ribbon nominating committee that identified the initial board of directors and standing committee members.
Prior to joining DLA Piper, Scheeler was a federal prosecutor in the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Maryland from 1984 to 1989. During his time in public service, he successfully prosecuted racketeering, narcotics, money laundering and fraud cases.
In addition to practicing law, Scheeler is an engaged member of the community. He serves as chair of the board of Rosedale Federal Savings and Loan Association. He also serves as chair of the Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center and is a member of the boards of Johns Hopkins University, Johns Hopkins Medicine and the CollegeBound Foundation. Scheeler graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Harvard Law School.
“With the election of Charles Scheeler as the Authority’s chair, the board of directors is moving ahead with the development of uniform safety and integrity rules and regulations for the industry,” said Nancy Cox, who will continue to serve as chair of the Authority’s nominating committee. “Under his leadership, the Authority is well-positioned to recommend and implement a new and effective regulatory framework to safeguard the future of horse racing.”
Under the oversight of the Federal Trade Commission, Authority board and standing committee members are responsible for developing, implementing and enforcing a series of uniform anti-doping, medication control, racetrack safety and operational rules to enhance equine safety and protect the integrity of the sport for participants, fans and bettors.
As part of the national governing framework that will be established for the sport, the 2020 Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act (“HISA”) created a set of baseline standards and reforms from which the Authority will begin its work. The anti-doping and medication control standing committee, in partnership with the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) will advise the Authority on permitted and prohibited substances, laboratory testing standards, in- and out-of-competition testing and programs related to research and education. The racetrack safety standing committee will advise the Authority on training and safety standards, veterinary exam protocols, racing surface quality and maintenance, centralized databases for injury and fatality tracking and analysis, uniform track safety standards, and research and education related to every facet of racetrack safety.
“The Authority is working with the Federal Trade Commission to implement a series of uniform safety standards to reform and govern one of our nation’s most treasured pastimes by the July 2022 program effective date,” said Scheeler. “Our work to protect the integrity and safety of the sport for our equine and human athletes, participants and fans is the top priority for everyone involved with the Authority. We will deliver on our goals and fill the long-standing need for national oversight of this storied sport to ensure it can be enjoyed for generations to come.”
Additional information on HISA and the Authority can be found at hisaus.org.
Horseracing Integrity and Safety Authority Board of Directors
- Steve Beshear is an independent director from Kentucky. He served two terms as the 61st governor of Kentucky. An attorney by trade, Beshear has an extensive background in public service in Kentucky, including terms as Lieutenant Governor, Attorney General and a member of the Kentucky House of Representatives.
- Adolpho Birch is an independent director from Tennessee who will chair the Anti-Doping and Medication Control Standing Committee of the Authority. Birch is senior vice president of business affairs and chief legal officer for the NFL’s Tennessee Titans. Prior to joining the Titans, he spent 23 years at the National Football League’s headquarters, with responsibilities that included administration and enforcement of the NFL’s policies related to the integrity of the game, substance abuse, performance-enhancing drugs, gambling and criminal misconduct.
- Leonard Coleman is an independent director from Florida. Coleman is the former president of the National League of Professional Baseball Clubs. He joined Major League Baseball in 1992 as the executive director of market development. Previously, Coleman was a municipal finance banker for Kidder, Peabody and Company and served as commissioner of both the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs and Department of Energy. Coleman is also a former board member of Churchill Downs.
- Ellen McClain is an independent director from New York. McClain serves as the chief financial officer for Year UP, a nonprofit organization dedicated to closing the opportunity divide by ensuring that young adults gain the skills, experience and support that will empower them through careers and higher education. From 2009-2013, she served in various leadership roles with the New York Racing Association (NYRA), including as its president.
- Charles Scheeler is an independent director from Maryland. Scheeler is a retired partner at DLA Piper. He has an extensive legal career in the private and public sector. Prior to joining DLA Piper, Scheeler was a federal prosecutor in the US Attorney’s Office and served as lead counsel to former Senator George Mitchell in his investigation of performance-enhancing substance use in Major League Baseball. Scheeler also has extensive experience investigating and monitoring Division I athletics programs’ compliance with the National College Athletics Association.
- Joseph De Francis is an industry director from Maryland. De Francis is the managing partner of Gainesville Associates, LLC. Prior to this role, he was a senior executive for various Thoroughbred racing entities including the Maryland Jockey Club and Magna Entertainment Corporation. De Francis has served on several industry and charitable organization boards, including the National Thoroughbred Racing Association (“NTRA”) and the Johns Hopkins Heart Institute, among others.
- Susan Stover is an industry director from California, and she will chair the Racetrack Safety Standing Committee of the Authority. Stover is a professor of surgical and radiological science and the University of California, Davis and an expert in clinical equine surgery and lameness. Her research investigates the prevalence, distribution and morphology of equine stress fractures, risk factors and injury prevention, as well as the impact of equine injuries on human welfare.
- Bill Thomason is an industry director from Kentucky. Thomason is the immediate past president of Keeneland, a role he served in from 2012 to 2020. Throughout his career, Thomason has been engaged with several industry organizations, including the NTRA and American Horse Council, as well as several civic and corporate boards, including the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce and the University of Kentucky Gluck Equine Research Foundation.
- DG Van Clief is an industry director from Virginia. Van Clief retired in 2006 from serving as president of the Breeders’ Cup since 1996. A long-time racing executive, Van Clief was chairman of the Fasig-Tipton Company and a trustee of the Jockey Club Foundation. For several generations, his family operated Nydrie Stud in Virginia, and his grandmother bred 1947 Kentucky Derby winner Jet Pilot.
Anti-Doping and Medication Control Standing Committee Members
- Jeff Novitzky is an independent member from Nevada. Novitzky is Ultimate Fighting Championship’s (UFC) vice president of athlete health and performance. In this role, he partnered with the United States Anti-Doping Agency to implement UFC’s anti-doping program. Prior to UFC, Novitzky was a federal agent for the Food and Drug Administration and an investigator for the Internal Revenue Service.
- Kathleen Stroia is an independent member from Florida. Stroia is senior vice president of sport sciences and medicine and transitions for the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) and the WTA’s representative on the board of the Society for Tennis Medicine and Science. Stroia has served on various committees related to her sport, including the International Tennis Federation Medical Commission, the Tennis Anti-doping Committee and the U.S. Tennis Association Sport Science Committee, among others.
- Jerry Yon is an independent member from Florida. Yon is a retired gastroenterologist and previous member of the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission (“KHRC”), where he helped establish the Kentucky Equine Medical Director position, and is a past chair of the Equine Drug Research Council, which advises the KHRC on drug testing, regulations and penalties.
- Jeff Blea is an industry member from California. Blea is equine medical director at the University of California, Davis School of Veterinary Medicine. He is also a partner/owner in Von Bluecher, Blea, Hunkin, Inc., an equine veterinary medicine and surgery practice. Blea has served on and led several equine industry organizations including the American Association of Equine Practitioners (“AAEP”), Southern California Equine Foundation and the NTRA’s Safety and Integrity Alliance.
- Mary Scollay is an industry member from Kentucky. Scollay is the executive director and chief operating officer of the Racing Medication and Testing Consortium (RMTC), one of the industry’s foremost scientific authorities on performance enhancing drugs, therapeutic medications and laboratory testing. She has served as a racing regulator since 1987 and is an active member in several industry and professional practice organizations including the AAEP and the International Group of Specialist Racing Veterinarians.
- Scott Stanley is an industry member from Kentucky. Stanley is a professor of analytical chemistry at the University of Kentucky’s Maxwell H. Gluck Equine Research Center and director of the Equine Analytical Chemistry Laboratory. A research scientist with more than 30 years of regulatory drug testing experience, his work focuses on developing new anti-doping approaches and the establishment of the Equine Biological Passport project.
Racetrack Safety Standing Committee Members
- Lisa Fortier is an independent member from New York. Fortier is the James Law Professor of Surgery, Equine Park Faculty Director and associate chair for Graduate Education and Research at the Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine. Her primary clinical and translational research interests are in equine orthopedic surgery, tendonitis, arthritis and regenerative medicine.
- Peter Hester is an independent member from Kentucky. Hester is an orthopedic surgeon specializing in sports medicine and previously worked for equine veterinary surgeon William Reed at Belmont Park. While in medical school, he was a night watchman at Ballindaggin Farm and has maintained a passion for the sport and rider safety.
- Paul Lunn is an independent member from North Carolina. Lunn is dean of the College of Veterinary Medicine at North Carolina State University. Previously he was a professor and administrator at Colorado State University and the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Lunn’s scholarly interests are in equine immunology and infectious disease.
- Carl Mattacola is an independent member from North Carolina. Mattacola is dean of the University of North Carolina, Greensboro School of Health and Human Sciences. Prior to this, he was associate dean of academic and faculty affairs for the College of Health Sciences at the University of Kentucky. Mattacola’s research has focused on neuromuscular, postural and functional considerations in the treatment and rehabilitation of lower extremity injury.
- Glen Kozak is an industry member from New York. Kozak is senior vice president of operations and capital projects for the New York Racing Association’s (NYRA) facility and track operations, which include Belmont Park, Saratoga Race Course, Aqueduct Racetrack and others. Prior to joining NYRA, Kozak worked for the Maryland Jockey Club as vice president of facilities and racing surfaces.
- John Velazquez is an industry member from New York. Velazquez is one of the most accomplished and respected jockeys in the history of horse racing, having won almost 6,250 races. He is North America’s all-time leading money-earning jockey and holds the record for most graded stakes wins. He is a board member of the Permanently Disabled Jockeys’ Fund and co-chairman of the Jockeys’ Guild. He was inducted into the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame in 2012.
Nominating Committee Members:
- Len Coleman is the former president of the National League of Professional Baseball Clubs. He joined Major League Baseball in 1992 as the executive director of market development. Previously, Coleman was a municipal finance banker for Kidder, Peabody and Company and served as commissioner of both the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs and Department of Energy. Coleman is also a former board member of Churchill Downs.
- Nancy Cox is the vice president for Land-grant Engagement and the dean of the College of Agriculture, Food and Environment at the University of Kentucky. Prior to that, she served as associate dean for research and director of the Experiment Station at the University of Kentucky. Cox championed the formation of the UK Equine Initiative (now UK Ag Equine Programs), recognizing the importance of the horse industry and its significance to Kentucky.
- Katrina Adams is the immediate past president of the United States Tennis Association (USTA), following two consecutive terms as the USTA’s chairman and president. A successful professional tennis player, Adams was elected vice president of the International Tennis Federation in 2015 and was appointed as chairman of the Fed Cup Committee in 2016.
- Jerry Black is a visiting professor at Texas Tech School of Veterinary Medicine and is an emeritus professor and Wagonhound Land and Livestock chair in Equine Sciences at Colorado State University. He is the former president of the American Association of Equine Practitioners and former chair of the board of trustees of the American Horse Council.
- Joseph Dunford is the former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the nation’s highest-ranking military officer, and was the principal military advisor to the president, Secretary of Defense, and National Security Council from Oct. 1, 2015, through Sept. 30, 2019. Prior to becoming chairman, General Dunford served as the 36th Commandant of the Marine Corps.
- Frank Keating is the former governor of Oklahoma. Prior to that role, his career in law enforcement and public service included time as a Federal Bureau of Investigation agent, U.S. Attorney and state prosecutor, and Oklahoma House and Senate member. He served as assistant secretary of the U.S. Treasury, associate U.S. attorney general, and general counsel for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
- Ken Schanzer served as president of NBC Sports from June 1998 until his retirement in September 2011. He also served as chief operating officer. During Schanzer’s tenure, he secured the television rights to the Triple Crown races and Breeders’ Cup for NBC. Before joining NBC Sports, he served as senior vice president of government relations for the National Association of Broadcasters