Great Britain Beefs Up Equine Anti-Doping Policy

Steroid scandals in Great Britain earlier this year have prompted the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) to review and amend its Anti-Doping and Medication Control Policy.

"The objective is that via enhancements to our testing program and strategy, as well as the significant penalties handed to those who have breached the rules this year, we increase the deterrent against the use of prohibited substances," said Paul Bittar, chief executive of the BHA. "A review of the existing policy was instigated in May 2013 and considered all aspects, including the overall strategy towards doping control, budget allocated, number and balance of each method of testing, screening techniques, the contract with HFL, and the direction of research and development."

Amendments to the authority's anti-doping policy are as follows:

  • Testing-in-training samples to double;
  • Post-race testing samples to increase by 20%;
  • An extended but renegotiated contract with HFL, resulting in lower per-unit sampling costs; and
  • An increased investment in research, including a continuation of hair sample analysis techniques in order to explore the feasibility of regulatory hair sampling.

These changes become effective Jan. 1 and will be reviewed quarterly in order to assess their effectiveness, the BHA said.

"In an ideal world there would be no limit to the amount of testing we conduct, but we are constrained with regard to both budget and resources," Bittar said. "However, we have secured an increase in the budget available for 2014 and an effective strategy is not simply measured by the number of samples taken, but also the methods adopted to ensure that the right samples are being taken at the right time.

"While both of the high-profile investigations in 2013 arose from positive samples detected in the equivalent of out-of-competition testing rather than post-race, we do consider testing-in-training to be the area where a significant increase is warranted," he said.

Originally published on

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