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British Horseracing Authority announces new anti-doping rules

After an extensive review, the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) has published new anti-doping rules, which will be fully implemented on March 2nd 2015. 

The BHA has been contacing everyone who may be effected by the new rules, both in the UK and internationally, to ensure that there is awareness across world racing. Part of this awareness programme includes a comprehensive Guide, which explains what must be done to be in compliance with the rules. 

Click here to download the Guide and to access more information

An important part of these new rules is the zero tolerance policy regarding anabolic steroids. The goal of this policy, first announced in June 2014, is to ensure British Racing remains at the forefront of tackling an issue that ranks amongst the biggest threats faced by any world sport. Included amongst the Rules are: that a horse must never be administered an anabolic steroid at any time from birth to retirement; greater powers for the BHA in terms of access for testing registered horses; the requirement for horses to be registered from a younger age and for BHA to be aware of their whereabouts at all times; more stringent penalties for horses found to have been administered anabolic steroids; and, greater controls on horses running in Great Britain from international jurisdictions. 

The publication of the rules marks the conclusion of a project initiated in 2013 to establish how British Racing would not only adhere to, but exceed where possible, the international minimum standards on steroid use, as published by the International Federation of Horseracing Authorities (IFHA) in October 2013. 

Commenting on the zero tolerance policy, BHA Chief Executive Nick Rust said, “By ‘zero-tolerance’ we mean that no horse should ever be administered an anabolic steroid or similar substance for as long as it is involved in racing, with no exceptions. This policy is supported by the enhanced powers which we can now call upon both to regulate the sport and to deter those who believe they can succeed in circumventing the Rules. 

“As well as the enhancement of our own Rules, the BHA has adopted a leadership role internationally which was integral to the introduction of the IFHA’s minimum standards. The March implementation date does not mark the end of this process. The BHA will continue this role and ensure that British and international Racing does all within its power to remain at the forefront of combating doping. We hope that the steps we have taken will lead other nations to follow suit and implement Rules that are as stringent as ours, for the good of the sport and the horse. 

“There is no current evidence that the use of anabolic steroids or other similar substances is endemic in British racing. We showed in 2013 that when it does take place we are able to detect it and act on it. But we must never be complacent.” 

Support for the new rules comes from all quarters including Rupert Arnold, Chief Executive of the National Trainers Federation (NTF) who noted, “The BHA has produced a very comprehensive guide to the new Equine Anti-doping Rules. The NTF has been working with the BHA to ensure the guide is clear.  We are pleased to have contributed and are grateful to the trainers who have given us helpful feedback. Inevitably implementing the rules creates additional paperwork for all those affected but we, in co-operation with the BHA, have done everything possible to make it as practical as possible. The Equine Anti-doping policy has the potential to influence the racing and bloodstock industries internationally. It is right that British racing takes the lead in this area and we support the BHA wholeheartedly.” 

Racehorse Owners Association (ROA) CEO, Richard Wayman also remarked that the ROA gave their full support. We welcome BHA’s efforts “to make owners aware of the implications and responsibilities under the new rules. Although there is no reason to believe these substances are prevalent within our sport, it is important that, in addition to the detailed information set out in the Guide, the BHA has set up a facility so owners can get any queries answered, either on the phone or via email.” 

Details about the new rules:

  • A racehorse must not be administered an anabolic steroid at any point in its life.
  • Any horse administered an anabolic steroid will face a mandatory stand down period from training for 12 months and ineligible to start in any race in Britain for 14 months.
  • All horses must be available for testing at any time, regardless of physical location and whose care the horse is under, from the time it is first registered with the General Stud Book.
  • The Responsible Person will be the trainer while the horse is under their care or control and the owner at all other times. The owner of a horse not yet in training shall be presumed to be the breeder of the horse unless proven otherwise.
  • All horses born in GB must be registered with Weatherbys within 12 months of birth, phased to six months in two years. Permanently imported horses must be registered with Weatherbys within 90 days of arrival in Britain accompanied by a sample that shows no evidence of administration of anabolic steroids or other substances banned at all times.
  • Due to their like-policies, horses imported from Ireland, France and Germany which have spent 12 months under their equivalent policies will be exempt from this requirement. Likewise, runners from Ireland, France and Germany will be treated as British runners and sampled as per the standard testing policy.
  • All other foreign runners must be in Britain (and BHA notified of their whereabouts) a minimum of 10 business days in advance of their intended race to facilitate post-arrival sampling and analysis, the results of which will be received prior to the horse running. The sample must show no evidence of administration of anabolic steroids or other substances banned at all times. When the horse runs, it will also be subject to the standard testing policy.

The Rules applies not only to anabolic steroids but all substances and methods listed in Manual G, schedule 1. The categories are:

  • Anabolic agents;
  • Substances not approved for veterinary use;
  • Peptide hormones, growth factors and related substances;
  • Hormone and metabolic modulators;
  • Manipulation of blood and blood components;
  • Blood transfusions;
  • Genetic and cellular manipulation;
  • Oxygen carriers.

The IFHA minimum standard states that:

  • IFHA considers that anabolic steroids have no place in horseracing
  • The use of anabolic steroids should not be permitted in or out of competition
  • IFHA will work with jurisdictions that may permit exceptional use for therapeutic purposes only, subject to stringent 


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