The British Horseracing Authority (BHA) confirmed today that it would be visiting the yard of Irish trainer Philip Fenton, in order to interview him and conduct tests on horses in his care which hold entries for races at the Cheltenham Festival next month. The decision follows the adjournment of the court case into allegations that following an inspection in January 2012 by officials from the Irish Department of Agriculture, unauthorised animal remedies, including anabolic steroids, were found at Fenton’s yard.
Following consultation with the Irish Turf Club, it has been agreed that samples from Fenton’s horses will be collected by BHA and fast-track testing will take place at HFL Sport Science, Newmarket, with the results of the tests available next week. It is intended that both blood and hair samples are taken for testing. Substances can be detected in hair samples for a greater period of time than is the case with either blood or urine. This is a method which already forms part of BHA’s programme for testing-in-training.
In addition to the sampling, the trainer will be interviewed. This visit will form part of the ongoing process of gathering all relevant information regarding this issue.
Paul Bittar, BHA Chief Executive, said:
“Following the adjournment of the court case, we want to take steps which serve to uphold public confidence in the relevant races at the Cheltenham Festival, and the sport in general. The testing of the Fenton-trained horses will form a part of the decision making process as to how best to achieve this objective.
“Any development or set of circumstances which brings the integrity of our sport into question is of considerable concern. The events of 2013 highlighted the need to increase the deterrent against the misuse of drugs and medication, and in particular anabolic steroids. Since then significant steps have been taken towards achieving a set of international minimum standards, with a number of jurisdictions adopting a zero-tolerance policy regarding the use of steroids in racing.
“Meanwhile in Britain we have announced a doubling in the scale of our testing-in-training programme and we are looking forward to publishing in the spring the findings of a report commissioned to establish standards in Britain which exceed the minimum international standard.
“Although the inspection at Philip Fenton’s yard took place in Ireland over two years ago, and therefore before recent upgrades in deterrents in this country, there is no room for complacency. We consider it incumbent upon all involved with British and Irish racing, not just the authorities, to demonstrate their opposition to the misuse of drugs and medication, in particular anabolic steroids, and be open and transparent about all practices.”