Samples to be Frozen to Increase Deterrent to Misuse of Prohibited Substances
Published: 25 November 2004
It was announced today by the Jockey Club that from 2005 a selection of samples collected as part of the routine dope testing of horses will be frozen. This will enable samples to be tested retrospectively when the Horseracing Forensic Laboratory have developed new or improved ways of detecting prohibited substances.
Dr Peter Webbon, Jockey Club Director of Veterinary Science and Welfare, said today: “The aim is to increase the deterrent to the use of prohibited substances. There is little doubt that the testing facilities provided by HFL are among the best in the world, however, one only has to monitor developments in the testing of human athletes to realise that it is not always be possible for the laboratories to keep pace with those who are prepared to use new technology to gain an unfair advantage.”
From next year samples from all types of racing, from Group 1 race days to regular mid-week meetings, will be frozen.
Dr Webbon continued: “There will be not a rigid policy as to how many samples are stored or when they are tested, flexibility is important so that we can react to scientific developments.
“The lab will test the frozen samples when a new test for a drug becomes available or the sensitivity for a problem drug is improved. The current plan is that the Drug Surveillance Committee will make recommendations to the Regulatory Board as to when a proportion of the stored samples should be thawed and tested. In the event of a positive finding from a stored sample a report will then be submitted to the Regulatory Board who will decide on the appropriate course of action.”
“There is no evidence or intelligence to suggest there is a problem at present but by giving ourselves the option to test frozen samples retrospectively we establish a stronger deterrent for now and the future.”
25th November 2004
Notes for Editors
1. Around 10% of runners provide post race samples. In 2003 8,266 samples were collected from the 83,063 runners. In addition, on average one yard a month is visited and samples are taken from horses in training.
2. In February 2002 the Jockey Club collected samples from over 400 horses in one morning and tested them for traces of EPO (erythropoietin). All the samples tested negative, as have all subsequent samples tested for EPO taken from horses tested in training and on the racecourse.