What might come to mind when you read of a U. S. Senator lamenting “the legitimate distrust… fans have for the integrity of the sport?” In that some major players in U. S. horse racing have called for federal regulation of the sport/industry, and U. S. Senator Tom Udall of New Mexico and U. S. Congressman Ed Whitfield of Kentucky co-sponsored legislation for this purpose, a follower of the American turf would be apt to think of horse racing.

But this would be an incorrect inference: the answer, in this case, is boxing and the Senator who made the remark is retired Navy Captain John McCain of Arizona, who boxed as a midshipman at the U. S. Naval Academy.

According to the Associated Press, the furor over the judges’ decision in the recent Manny Pacquiao vs. Timothy Bradley fight, in Bradley’s favor, caused McCain and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a onetime middleweight boxer, to introduce legislation to establish a U. S. Boxing Commission to “carry out federal law, work with the industry and local commissions and license boxers, promoters, managers, and sanctioning organizations.”

McCain, speaking on the Senate floor, quoted sportswriter Jimmy Cannon’s description of boxing as the “red light district of sports.” McCain said that the Pacquiao-Bradley outcome “is the latest example of the legitimate distrust boxing fans have for the integrity of the sport.” Pacquiao was previously unbeaten in seven years and was widely thought to have beaten Bradley, who won on a split decision by the judges.

With Senate Majority leader Reid co-sponsoring the boxing bill, it has a better chance of actually making it into law than does the federal regulation of horse racing. Regardless of one’s view of federal regulation, it is a sad and egregious occurrence when state regulation of horse racing has become so lax and inconsistent across jurisdictions that federal regulation is even discussed, which puts horse racing perilously close, in public perception, to another sport called the “red light district of sports.”

A once noble sport must do better than this. While adhering to due process, the bad actors in horse racing must be exiled…and this is in the hands of state rulesmakers and regulators.

Copyright © 2012 Horse Racing Business