The British Horseracing Authority is to modernise its equine drug testing procedures from 1 January 2010 following a review by the Authority’s Board.
The overall policy that “no horse should run in Great Britain under the effects of medication or have any substance present in its system that can affect performance” remains the same. Protecting the integrity of the sport and the welfare of the thoroughbred horse remains a priority, and this new approach will enhance the deterrent effect.
To date, the vast majority of testing has been conducted after races. From 1 January 2010, the Authority will change its raceday testing programme to a more flexible approach, making increased use of information and intelligence, and employing more targeted testing which will occur both before and after racing, and in training.
The testing will be less predictable; the levels and timings of testing, the type of testing, and even the samples collected will vary to ensure our efforts are targeted, and not just all routine tests. Whilst a significant volume of post-race sampling will continue, the Authority will considerably increase the amount of pre-race and in training testing. Blood and other forms of sampling will be adopted.
Additionally, the Authority is committed to working with trainers, vets and others to address medication control and ensuring the best possible understanding of how long a substance given for legitimate reasons may remain in the body of a thoroughbred racehorse through the following:
• Communications with trainers being enhanced via seminars, notices and articles in journals.
• Providing improved support and advice through the reassignment of staff.
• Planning a complete revision of the advice on our website.
• We have established a Centre for Racehorse Studies to increase understanding on Detection Times.
Alongside this, the Authority has worked with the laboratory that provides testing to British racing, HFL Sport Science, to develop its working relationships. This had led to a renegotiation of the contract, under which HFL Sport Science will be the Authority’s service provider for at least the next seven years. Key to this new contract is significantly increased flexibility and capturing the opportunities offered by new technologies. In the future, in line with the new approach, numbers and types of tests, and where and how they will be taken will not be published in advance, but will be reported on in an annual review.
Professor Tim Morris, BHA Director of Equine Science and Welfare, said:
“We have been working with colleagues around the world, and in British horseracing, to ensure we have a system in which everyone can have confidence.
“This new approach will allow us to ensure a good spread of testing, whilst increased unpredictability in testing will deter offenders. We also want to be able to act quickly on intelligence received and deter the extremely small minority of people in our sport who might cheat. In-training testing allows us to help trainers ensure that they and their and their staff are using medication for horses in training appropriately and keeping accurate records of their use.
“For those involved in the sport we want to have as much information available to them as possible, from which sensible veterinary treatment decisions can be made, whilst ensuring racing does not tolerate a violation of the rules.
“For example, earlier this week I attended a National Trainers Federation seminar on medication control where we listened to the concerns of trainers and discussed this new approach. It was a positive and constructive meeting which included a tour of the HLF Sport Science laboratories by a large group of trainers, the first time this has happened on such a scale.”
Paul Scotney, BHA Director of Integrity Services and Licensing, added:
“These changes are designed to enhance our capacity to enforce the Rules of the sport effectively, and make most effective use of the information available.
“We want to extend our sources of information, so that the overwhelming majority of participants who want a clean sport will feel able to contribute information in a confidential way, knowing it will be handled appropriately. Targeted testing will be done based on established objective procedures, the Authority uses an intelligence system based on the Police National Intelligence Model, which set standards for process, professionalism, fairness and confidentiality. We will continue to work to build the trust necessary to do this.”
For more information please contact Paul Struthers, BHA Media Relations Manager, on 020 7152 0166, 07966 590105 or at [email protected]
Notes for Editors
1. Most of the relatively small numbers of positive tests in racing are medication control errors (around 20 a year) rather than deliberate doping, either to promote positive performance or to seek to lessen a horse’s ability to perform to its ability (around 1 a year).
2. In addition to this review of specific equine drug testing procedures the Authority’s Board is also currently reviewing the implementation and communication of the Authority’s overall drug testing policy.