BHA statement on anti-doping saliva and sweat testing pilot

06 Mar 2024 BHA Features

The BHA is aware of a social media post by Kieran O’Neill giving an account of the non-negative sweat/saliva samples returned at Southwell racecourse yesterday.

The process for handling non-negative samples on raceday as part of the ongoing pilot of sweat/saliva sampling was agreed between the BHA and PJA.

As part of the agreed process, which utilises a Home Office-approved testing kit used by police forces globally, should a rider return a non-negative sample then they will be tested a second time.

Should the second sample also return non-negative then, in the interests of safety for horses and riders, the jockey should be stood down for the day.

Mr O’Neill was stood down on the day having provided two non-negative samples. 16 jockeys were tested yesterday and 16 on Monday with only Mr O’Neill returning these two non-negative samples.

As part of the process a urine sample screening is also be taken on the day. This is for indicative processes only as part of the trial. It operates to different thresholds, and does not form part of the immediate regulatory process. Mr O’Neill’s urine sample returned a negative result on-course but is not relevant to his being able to ride today and beyond.

This same urine sample is also sent away for analysis at the official testing laboratory. Mr O’Neill will be permitted to ride today and beyond, pending the return of this urine result, provided he returns a negative sweat/saliva sample prior to weighing out.

A hair sample will also be taken.

Ensuring the safety of jockeys competing in our sport is a priority for the BHA. We appreciate the strength of feeling from Mr O’Neill but this alone is not enough to make judgement about the testing process, or its ability to detect the intentional or sometimes inadvertent presence of substances in a rider’s system. The proper process must be allowed to take its course.