Amendments to the Rules of Racing – Cobalt

The British Horseracing Authority (BHA) has today announced the details an amendments to the Rules of Racing which come into effect from 2 April 2016.

Implementation of a raceday cobalt threshold

Since 2014, international racing regulatory efforts have been focused to establish a raceday threshold for cobalt in horses. The BHA has contributed to these efforts via population data, administration studies and scientific expertise.

This threshold has now been agreed and the International Federation of Horseracing Authorities has adopted a raceday urinary threshold for cobalt of 0.01 micrograms (= 100 nanograms) total cobalt per millilitre in urine. On the back of the work carried out by the BHA which supports this threshold level, this will be implemented within the Rules of British Racing as of 2 April 2016.

Whilst cobalt is an essential trace element and is naturally present in the horse, it may also have the potential to enhance performance when present at concentrations that exceed normal physiological parameters. However, it is also possible that exposure to significantly increased levels of cobalt may have welfare implications for the horse.

This threshold has been determined to permit the use of supplements that contain low levels of cobalt (such as Vitamin B12). However, as these supplements would not be considered normal feed and water, they must not be administered on raceday in accordance with the usual Rules of Racing.

Jenny Hall, Chief Veterinary Officer for the BHA, said:

“The current available evidence shows that British Racing does not have an issue with the use of cobalt as a doping substance. A series of surveys carried out over recent years showed no indication that there is a culture of the substance being used in an inappropriate manner.

“However, it is important that British Racing remains at the forefront of all matters relating to integrity and welfare. While we would previously have had facility under our Rules to bring charges against anyone found to be misusing the substance, the implementation of this threshold provides a formal framework for such charges, should they be detected via testing.”