22 Dec 2013 Pre-2014 Releases

The British Horseracing Authority (BHA) has today announced the completion of a Review of its Anti-doping and Medication Control Policy (‘the Policy’).

As a result of the Review, BHA will increase the spend and resources to this area, while the Policy will be amended to deliver the following:

  • Testing-in-training samples to double;
  • Post-race testing samples to increase by 20%;
  • An extended but renegotiated contract with HFL, resulting in lower per-unit sampling costs, and;
  • An increased investment in research including the continuation of hair sample analysis techniques in order to explore the feasibility of regulatory hair sampling

Paul Bittar, Chief Executive of BHA, said:

“The two high profile investigations this year have brought BHA’s Anti-Doping and Medication Control Policy into the spotlight, and highlighted the need for an appropriately robust strategy towards doping control.

“The objective is that via enhancements to our testing programme and strategy, as well as the significant penalties handed to those who have breached the Rules this year, we increase the deterrent against the use of prohibited substances.”

A review of the existing Policy was instigated in May 2013 and considered all aspects, including the overall strategy towards doping control, budget allocated, number and balance of each method of testing, screening techniques, the contract with HFL and the direction of research and development.

The revised Policy will become effective as of 1 January 2014 and will be reviewed quarterly to assess its effectiveness.

Paul Bittar added:

“In an ideal world there would be no limit to the amount of testing we conduct, but we are constrained with regard to both budget and resources. However, we have secured an increase in the budget available for 2014 and an effective strategy is not simply measured by the number of samples taken, but also the methods adopted to ensure that the right samples are being taken at the right time.

“While both of the high profile investigations in 2013 arose from positive samples detected in the equivalent of out-of-competition testing rather than post race, we do consider testing-in-training to be the area where a significant increase is warranted.

“Modern day anti-doping strategies across all sports are increasingly focussing on out-of-competition testing as trends move towards substances that are administered well in advance of the performance to allow athletes to compete ‘substance free’ on the day. As such BHA’s anti-doping strategy for 2014 has an increased emphasis on testing-in-training.

“The policy’s objective is to deter and prevent horses from competing under the influence of prohibited substances and so ensure a level playing field for all of the sport’s participants. We are confident that there is no underlying endemic problem on this front within horseracing and we hope our enhanced programme will serve to retain the confidence of both participants and those who bet on the sport.

“It has been a challenging year but we hope that the enhancements made to our testing policies, the tightening of certain Rules and the advancements led by BHA in establishing an international minimum standard on anabolic steroid use, has, as a result, made the sport a better environment both in Britain and worldwide.”

Notes to Editors:

1. The separate piece of work looking in to the use of anabolic steroids in British racing following the recommendation of a minimum standard by the IFHA is well advanced, with a number of consultations having taken place. This work is anticipated to be completed by the end of Q1 2014 and the objective of BHA is to exceed the minimum standard where possible.

2. Some information regarding the testing of horses in British Racing can be found below. The final figures for both raceday testing and testing in training have not yet been compiled for 2013 though the numbers of tests carried out are expected to be marginally higher than the 2012 figures on both counts.

Raceday Testing

Number of runners – 90,174
Number of post-race samples – 7,182
Number of positives – 14
Positives as a percentage of runners – 0.19%

Number of runners – 94,786
Number of post-race samples – 7,619
Number of positives – 13
Positives as a percentage of runners – 0.17%

Number of runners – 92,025
Number of post-race samples – 7,952
Number of positives – 25
Positives as a percentage of runners – 0.31%

Testing in Training

Between 600-700 tests were carried out in 2012 as part of the ‘testing in training’ sampling programme. There could be a number of reasons why a yard could be identified for testing in training but we do not disclose the strategy for this.

The average racehorse population in training at any one time was around 14,000 in 2012.

3. Research will continue into hair analysis techniques in order to explore the feasibility of regulatory hair sampling. This remains unproven at this stage for use in a regulatory environment.

For more information contact:

Robin Mounsey
British Horseracing Authority
e: [email protected]