The British Horseracing Authority (BHA) has today published details of British Racing’s enhanced, zero-tolerance policy towards the use of anabolic steroids.
The announcement of the policy marks the conclusion of a project initiated in 2013 to establish how British Racing would not only adhere to, but exceed where possible, the new international minimum standards on steroid use, as published by the International Federation of Horseracing Authorities (IFHA) in October 2013.
The project included extensive scientific research and consultation across the global Racing industry and externally, led by Sandy Love, Professor of Equine Clinical Studies at Glasgow University.
The headline elements of the policy are:
· A horse must not be administered an anabolic steroid at any point in its life.
· Any horse administered an anabolic steroid will face a mandatory stand down period from training for 12 months and ineligible to start in any race in Britain for 14 months.
· All horses must be available for testing at any time, regardless of physical location and whose care the horse is under, from the time it is first registered with Weatherbys.
· All GB bred horses must be registered with Weatherbys within 12 months of birth, phased to six months in two years. Permanently imported horses must be registered with Weatherbys within three months of arrival in Britain accompanied by a sample that shows no evidence of anabolic steroid administration.
· Due to their mirror policies, horses imported from Ireland, France and Germany which have spent 12 months under their equivalent policies will be exempt from this requirement. Likewise, runners from Ireland, France and Germany will be treated as British runners and sampled as per the standard testing policy.
· All other foreign runners must be in Britain (and the BHA notified of their whereabouts) a minimum of 14 days in advance of their intended race to facilitate post-arrival sampling and analysis, the results of which will be received prior to the horse running.
Paul Bittar, Chief Executive of BHA, said:
“The need for an international position that sets robust minimum standards on use of anabolic steroids in horseracing was one that was pushed by BHA and a number of other key racing jurisdictions last year and resulted in the IFHA adopted position.
“The enhanced, zero-tolerance policy announced today, which exceeds the international minimum standard, has the objective of ensuring that British Racing remains at the forefront of tackling an issue that ranks amongst the biggest threats faced by any world sport.
“It is intended to ensure that the industry, racing and betting public can be reassured that all races which take place on British soil are done so on a level playing field. It is also hoped that this will be another step towards global harmonisation across the sport and that the leadership role BHA has adopted on this issue can result in those nations that have not yet adopted the minimum standards following suit. Our previous policy already met the minimum standards, and today’s announcement goes further, ensuring British Racing retains its pre-eminent position in respect of how drug use is regulated within the sport.
“After a challenging 16 months, as a result of the actions taken already by several nations, the sport globally is now in a much better place when it comes to the regulation of anabolic steroids.”
The intention is for the policy to be implemented by 1 January 2015, pending the implementation of the necessary Rule changes.
Jamie Stier, Director of Raceday Operations and Regulation for BHA, said:
“The development of this policy has been an extensive and exhaustive project which has taken place over a period of more than seven months.
“The initial research stage included a series of consultation meetings with a wide group of stakeholders including racing industry organisations, thoroughbred sales companies, veterinary organisations, scientific experts and animal welfare charities. This process was led by Sandy Love, Professor of Equine Clinical Studies at Glasgow University.
“Also included was a review of relevant scientific literature in relation to the therapeutic use of anabolic steroids, their possible performance enhancing effects and methods of detection.
“Once the policy recommendations were subsequently developed, we then had to carry out the complicated process of ensuring that they were enforceable and exactly how they would be applied to the regulatory framework here in Britain before publishing the policy.
“We have attempted to address every possible angle in the development of this policy but, while the objectives will remain the same, the policy itself will always remain open for review and further enhancements if required. The methods and approaches to regulating the use of anabolic steroids are something which Racing, and any sport, must always look to be evolving.”