09 Jun 2003 Pre-2014 Releases

Jockey Club Announces Plans to Significantly Increase the Testing of Riders

Published: 9 June 2003

Jockey Club announces plans to significantly increase testing of riders

The Jockey Club announced today that jockeys riding in Britain will soon be subject to an expanded programme of routine testing. The revised programme, which gets underway later this month, will include a significant increase in the number of random tests as well as the introduction of breathalyzer tests and will open up the way for target testing of jockeys.

The testing of riders in Britain was introduced in 1994 and since then, 1494 tests have been carried out for the Jockey Club by UK Sport. UK Sport have collected and analysed about 150 samples each year, but within the next few years and from the same budget, the Jockey Club intends to increase the number of urine tests to around 1000 a year (with up to 2000 breathalyzer tests) by transferring its contract for collection and analysis to Medscreen Ltd, whose world wide client base includes government contracts.

Dr Michael Turner, the Jockey Club’s Chief Medical Adviser, said today:

“We are delighted to be able to announce this expansion of our dope testing programme. The measures will serve to increase confidence in the safety of British racing. The motive for expanding our testing programme is not because of a need to tackle a particular problem; rather, it is to use our financial resources in the most cost-effective way to further increase safety levels in a very high-risk sport.

“By aiming our primary testing programme at those substances that impair performance or judgement, we can conduct a more effective and thorough testing programme as well as achieving a much faster turn around of results. The move to Medscreen will also open up the way for the introduction of target testing in competition, the absence of which in a safety critical sport is arguably a weakness. Target testing would enable us to ensure that all professional jockeys are subjected to regular testing.

“We are grateful for the work conducted by UK Sport on behalf of the Jockey Club, however, it is now necessary for us to move on in order to achieve our targets.

“Most people agree that in racing it is the horse’s ability which is the primary factor in determining the result of a race, consequently, racing is not comparable with other non-equine sports. Our needs have more in common with the occupational screening of employees working in safety sensitive jobs (pilots, police, armed forces, train drivers etc). British racing already has a comprehensive anti-doping programme for horses and the expanded testing programme for riders can only help to improve levels of safety and integrity.”

9th June 2003

Notes for Editors:

1. The aim is to test at 12-14 race meetings per month (approximately 3 days per week). During the winter months this will comprise of two Jump and one Flat meeting and in summer this will be two Flat and one Jump meeting. Urine tests will be taken from 6-8 riders, breathalyzers for 12-16 riders.

2. In addition, all participants on apprentice and conditional courses at the British Racing School and Northern Racing College are already subjected to testing.

3. To date racing has had to pay up to £295 for each sample tested by UK Sport at Kings College Laboratory for substances on the IOC list. The Jockey Club Medical Control Committee has evaluated all substances that have the potential to impair performance and judgement, these have been included on the list of Banned Substances (see below). The majority of items on the Jockey Club’s prohibited list are sedative medications or “recreational drugs” and include a large number of substances not found on the IOC list.

4. Another advantage of moving to Medscreen will be the rapid turn-around of results. Because jockeys are race riding almost daily a quick turn around time for samples is extremely important to the Jockey Club. The average time taken for UKSport to notify the Jockey Club of results is 3-4 weeks from the date of collection (15-20 working days). Using Medscreen, this lag time will be reduced to an average of 3 – 5 days (with the potential for results reaching the Jockey Club within 4 hours of the arrival of the sample in the laboratory).

5. Founded in 1987, Medscreen provides management solutions for the problems that drugs and alcohol bring to the working environment. Medscreen has an international network of trained sample collecting officers and their UKAS accredited laboratory is the largest in Europe dedicated to workplace drug testing. They have a world-wide client base, which in addition to government contracts includes customers in the following industry sectors: oil, energy, transport (road, rail, air and shipping), manufacturing, retail, sports, leisure, banking and other service sectors. For further information contact Kevin Rush or Lindsay Hadfield at Medscreen Ltd 020 7712 8000

6. The Jockey Club tests around 1:10 horses that run in Britain. In 2002 there were 7,915 samples taken from a total of 83,652 runners. In addition, the Jockey Club has been conducting testing in training for over five years. Since February 2002, an average of one trainer a month has received an un-announced visit and had all the horses in his yard tested.