British Racehorse Trainer Butler Gets Five-Year Suspension

British racehorse trainer Gerard Butler has received a 5-year suspension for having nine horses in his barn test positive for anabolic steroid use, the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) announced Dec. 4.

Butler admitted to seven of the charges, which included five horses treated with the veterinary product Sungate, on veterinary advice and by a veterinary surgeon. Four horses were identified later to have received the product Rexogin. Both products contain the anabolic steroid stanozolol, which is a prohibited substance, the BHA Disciplinary Panel said.

Commenting on this matter, Adam Brickell, BHA director of integrity, legal, and risk, said, "BHA's position, which was upheld by the disciplinary panel, was that the most serious charges related to Gerard Butler's gross failure to look after the best interests of four horses in his care, which amounted to conduct that was seriously prejudicial to the integrity, proper conduct and good reputation of the sport.

"The gravity of the breaches of the rules of racing escalated when, in the course of cross-examination during the disciplinary panel hearing, Gerard Butler finally provided evidence as to where he had purchased the drug in question from, and admitted that the product he had administered himself to four horses was not the equine veterinary product Sungate, but instead an unlicensed stanozolol-based product called Rexogin, manufactured for use in humans. Furthermore the panel accepted that Butler had administered this product by intra-articular injection using a method restricted by law to qualified veterinary surgeons.

"The panel also pointed to the fact that Butler took no veterinary advice before carrying out these procedures, did not have the horses properly assessed prior to their treatment, made no recording in his medication records of having injected the horses, and … subsequently allowed the horses to be treated by veterinary surgeons without informing them of the prior administrations. Furthermore they noted that it is not appropriate (that a trainer says) he is able to undertake an invasive veterinary procedure on the basis that he had seen veterinary surgeons performing the procedure, that he created unnecessary risks for the horses in obtaining the drug from an unlicensed source, and that his behavior in administering the injections was consistent with the underhand and covert manner in which he purchased the drug.

"Taking this all into account the panel summarized that the actions of Butler represented 'an appalling breach of his duty to look after the interests of the horses in his care and amounted to conduct that was seriously prejudicial to the integrity, proper conduct and good reputation of horseracing in Great Britain,' " Brickell concluded.

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