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Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

27 horse racing employees (trainers, veterinarians and others) were charged Monday in a "widespread, corrupt" doping scheme that cheated the betting public and likely contributed to the rise in racetrack fatalities.

The state of play: Among those charged was Jason Servis, the trainer of Maximum Security, the horse that won last year's Kentucky Derby but was disqualified for impeding the path of two other horses.

  • "Maximum Security went on to win four of his next five races — including the $10 million first-place check last month in the world's richest race: the Saudi Cup at the King Abdulaziz racecourse in Riyadh," per the New York Times.

Why it matters: This scandal comes amid a time of increased scrutiny on the horse racing industry, particularly in the U.S., where fatal racetrack injuries have been on the rise.

  • Nearly 10 horses died per week at U.S. racetracks in 2018, per the Jockey Club's Equine Injury Database, and California's Santa Anita Park, alone, has seen 40 deaths since December 2018.

Between the lines: The horses were "force-fed all manner of illegal and experimental drugs" that allowed them to run unnaturally fast and mask pain, often leading to injuries or death due to overexertion.

What they're saying:

"It's sad to know that there are people who are prepared to go to these lengths to cheat in our sport. ... If it happened in any sport it would be disappointing, and when you're talking about horses being put at risk, it's even more troubling."
— Longtime trainer Graham Motion, per WashPost

What to watch: This should build momentum around the Horseracing Integrity Act, which would establish an independent organization to regulate medication policy in horse racing.

Go deeper: 32nd horse dies at Santa Anita Park

Go deeper

Biden will reverse Trump's attempt to lift COVID related travel restrictions

Photo: Tasos Katopodis via Getty

The incoming Biden administration will reverse President Trump's last-minute order to lift COVID-19 related travel restrictions, Jen Psaki, the incoming White House press secretary, tweeted.

Why it matters: President Trump ordered entry bans lifted for travelers from the U.K., Ireland, Brazil and much of Europe to go into effect Jan. 26, but the Biden administration will "strengthen public health measures around international travel in order to further mitigate the spread of COVID-19," Jen Psaki said. Biden will be inaugurated on Wednesday, Jan. 20 and Trump will no longer be president by the time the order is set to go into effect.

Dominion sends cease and desist letter to My Pillow CEO Mike Lindell

Photo: Stephen Maturen/Getty Images

Dominion Voting Systems on Monday sent a cease and desist letter to My Pillow CEO Mike Lindell over his spread of misinformation related to the 2020 election.

Why it matters: Trump and several of his allies have pushed false conspiracy theories about the company, leading Dominion to take legal action. It's suing pro-Trump lawyer Sidney Powell for defamation and $1.3 billion in damages, and a Dominion employee has sued Trump himself, OANN and Newsmax.

Off the Rails

Episode 5: The secret CIA plan

Photo illustration: Aïda Amer, Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photo: Zach Gibson/Getty Images

Beginning on election night 2020 and continuing through his final days in office, Donald Trump unraveled and dragged America with him, to the point that his followers sacked the U.S. Capitol with two weeks left in his term. This Axios series takes you inside the collapse of a president.

Episode 5: Trump vs. Gina — The president becomes increasingly rash and devises a plan to tamper with the nation's intelligence command.

In his final weeks in office, after losing the election to Joe Biden, President Donald Trump embarked on a vengeful exit strategy that included a hasty and ill-thought-out plan to jam up CIA Director Gina Haspel by firing her top deputy and replacing him with a protege of Republican Congressman Devin Nunes.