To ensure that the integrity of the sport, the safeguarding of horse welfare and the Rules of Racing are adhered to, the BHA conducts various types of testing, both in and out of competition.

The BHA uses a targeted, intelligence led approach combined with raceday sampling which is process led. 

anti-doping, British racing, guidance, rules, regulation

When used, targeted testing will be done based on established objective procedures. BHA uses an intelligence system based on the Police National Intelligence Model, which set standards for process, professionalism, fairness, and confidentiality. The BHA Anti-Doping Department undertake both targeted and random testing.  

All regulatory samples are sent to the BHA’s contact laboratory, LGC, one of the world’s premier independent drug surveillance laboratories. There is a robust chain of custody from the place of sampling to LGC, and within the laboratory there are rigorous procedures to ensure sample integrity. The ‘A’ sample is analysed for Prohibited Substances, and the ‘B’ sample is stored and only analysed if required.  

What happens in the case of a positive test? 

If a Prohibited Substance is detected in the ‘A’ sample, the Trainer and Owner of the horse are notified by BHA and an investigation to try and determine the source of the Prohibited Substance will be carried out. 

The Trainer and/or Owner can elect to have the ‘B’ sample undergo counter-analysis, either at LGC or by another approved laboratory. 

If disciplinary action is taken, a hearing before the Disciplinary Panel will be conducted and the Panel will decide the appropriate sanction that should be imposed against the Trainer or Owner. The horse is usually disqualified from the race in which the positive sample was obtained, and the Trainer or Owner is likely to be fined. The results of the disciplinary hearing will be published in our Disciplinary Results section. 

There is usually an identifiable explanation for positive samples relating to stable error or veterinary treatments having been administered with an insufficient withdrawal time prior to raceday. 

If you have a question regarding Anti-Doping & Medication Control, please visit our FAQ section . If you are unable to find what you are looking for, please contact the BHA Anti-Doping Department at [email protected] 

In competition testing

Pre-Race Testing 

The principle purpose of pre-race testing is to identify horses that have available Total Carbon Dioxide (TCO2) level above the international threshold, although analysis for detection of other prohibited substances may be undertaken on blood samples collected, as directed by the BHA. The tests are primarily looking for the incidence of alkalinisation colloquially known as ‘milk shaking’. If a sample is not collected pre-race, the horse will then usually be chaperoned post-race and sampled no less than 2 hours after race time. Pre-race testing is not limited to blood samples, hair and/or urine samples may also be collected and analysed. 

 Post-Race Testing 

Post-race testing refers to any routine testing conducted on raceday (whether on the racecourse or other location). The objective of post-race sample collection is to detect and deter the use of prohibited substances. Urine samples are taken by default, however, blood may be collected, where directed. Other circumstances may warrant blood collection post-race, e.g., severe injury (fracture, severe epistasis), but consideration should always be given to allowing the horse to be stabilised first, with subsequent collection of the sample. 

 Fatality Testing 

The objective of fatality sample collection is to detect and deter the use of prohibited substances. More specifically the principle purpose is to identify horses that have been administered prohibited substances present in their system at the time of a fatal injury, whether that is a sudden death or injury requiring humane euthanasia. A blood and/or urine sample is collected during fatality testing. 

 Stalls Testing 

If on the racecourse, a stalls test usually takes place approximately 30 minutes prior to the first race, testing is conducted after the stalls test is completed (whether successfully or not). The principle purpose is to identify horses that have been administered prohibited substances that are listed in the categories of substances prohibited at a stalls test, e.g. sedatives, which may enable the horse to successfully pass the stalls test due to altered mentation, where it would otherwise not be able to do so. A blood or urine sample is collected during a stalls test, a horse cannot race on the day the test is conducted.

Out of competition testing

British Based  

The objective of British-Based Out of Competition (OOC) sample collection is to detect and deter the use of prohibited substances, prohibited at all times and to ensure licensed trainers use permitted medication within BHA Rules, including correctly recording such use. Horses both in training and out of training may be selected for sampling. In order to fulfil its function as the regulator and in order to preserve the integrity of British racing it is imperative that the BHA can obtain a sample (and specific matrix e.g. blood, urine, hair etc.) from a horse at any time. OOCT (British Based) is typically unannounced.  

 Permanent Import Testing 

Before a horse may be permanently imported into Great Britain to be trained or to race the BHA must collect a sample from the horse. The samples will then be tested in a BHA-approved laboratory to confirm there is no evidence of the presence or use of substances or methods prohibited at all times. 

To be exempt, a horse must have been present in one or more of the exempt (“bubble”) countries (Ireland, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Norway, and Sweden) for twelve consecutive months immediately before importation. 

To enable the BHA to collect a sample the Responsible Person must submit a Whereabouts Information Form (Permanent Import) for the horse within seven business days of its arrival in Great Britain. 

International Runner Testing 

A horse travelling to GB to race (from a non-exempt country) and under the care of a foreign trainer will only be cleared to start in the race if the laboratory reports no evidence of the presence in a blood, urine or hair sample of a substance which is prohibited at all times, and no other evidence of use of a substance or method which is prohibited at all times. 

The trainer must provide submit a Whereabouts Information Form (International Runner) so that the BHA can collect a sample from the horse in a timely manner. This form must be submitted no later than 14 business days before the first race in which the horse is entered or intended to be entered. 

In exceptional cases, the BHA Anti-Doping Department may choose to allow the sample to be collected prior to the horse travelling to Great Britain, by a BHA Veterinary Officer or BHA approved person.

Elective Testing 

Elective testing is facilitated by the BHA in certain circumstances, for example where a trainer wishes to establish: 

 – That medication given for essential veterinary treatment has cleared from a horse’s system before a race; or, 

 – When a Trainer suspects inadvertent medication or contaminated feedstuffs may have been given to a horse or horses. 

Elective testing is approved by either the Director of Health and Welfare or Anti-Doping Manager. Elective testing sample collection is normally undertaken by the trainer, however if a member of the sample collection team is requested (by the BHA Equine or Anti-Doping team) to assist with the sample collection procedure the routine sample collection procedures will be followed.  

Re-Instatement to Racing  

In order for a horse to be brought out of retirement, a re-instatement process must be undertaken before the horse may be eligible to race in Great Britain again. A letter and email outlining the process will be sent to the Responsible Person by the BHA. The Horse will be subject to out-of-competition testing, and any sample collected must show no evidence of presence or use of any substances that are prohibited at all times under the BHA’s Rules of Racing. In routine circumstances a period of at least six-month is required prior to the Horse being re-eligible to race again in Great Britain. A Whereabouts Information Form (Reinstatement to Racing) must be submitted within 7 business days of receiving the letter. 

Sales House Testing 

The objective of Sales House Testing (BHA-badged tests) is to ensure that any sample collected from a horse at a sales house shows no evidence of presence or use of any substances that are prohibited at all times under the BHA’s Rules of Racing before the horse may be eligible to race in Great Britain. Sale house Testing is conducted upon request from the sales house i.e. Tattersalls & Goffs. On the day of a sale, a vendor or buyer may request a BHA-badged sales test. 

If a horse from a non-exempt country is not tested prior to or on the day of a sale (before entering the sales ring), an announcement will be made when the horse enters the sales ring informing potential buyers that a permanent import test will be required in order for the horse to be eligible to race in GB. On the day of a sale, a vendor or buyer may request a BHA-badged sales test.


Testing data

The below table provides detail of the number of tests that have been carried out since 2014 on a raceday and out of competition. For more information on each of those areas, please see the sections above.

Year Raceday Out of Competition  Positives
2014 8287 1182 24
2015 8476 1153 14
2016 8460 1377 20
2017 8484 1748 19
2018 8863 1965 21
2019 8625 2257 16
2020 5873 842 19
2021 8349 1274 14
2022 8463 1400 22
2023 8393 1336 15