BHA Considers Implementing Horsehair Testing to Better Detect Steroids

by | 06.25.2013 | 11:53am

The British Horseracing Authority may add testing mane and tail samples from horses as it strives to improve testing measures and catch any illegal substances.

According to an article in The Guardian, BHA officials will more than likely add the drug testing of horsehair to their drug testing arsenal. The hair in a horse's mane or tail can provide evidence of the substances in its body throughout the time that the hair has taken to grow. This would be “invaluable in detecting sustained use of steroids.”

“At HFL [Horseracing Forensic Laboratory] Sport Science there is a team whose role is to constantly research methods of improving our sampling techniques,” Robin Mounsey, the BHA's media manager, told the press on June 24. “If it was deemed an effective method of testing and of benefit to achieving our objectives, then the introduction of hair samples is a possibility. It has been explored in the past and could be incorporated to our rules and procedures in the future.”

In the recent doping scandal involving former Godolphin trainer Mahmood al Zarooni, the testing of hair samples could have provided officials with a much clearer picture of the extent and duration of Zarooni's doping activities. Also, according to the article, such testing “could also provide evidence of steroid use on horses from foreign jurisdictions, such as Australia and the United States, which do not adopt Britain's zero-tolerance approach to steroids.”

Read more in The Guardian

  • Ben van den Brink

    Everyone knows that the hairs are the database from the body, unlucking them would result in an permanent overside from any used medication therapeutic or not.

  • salthebarber

    It’s going to be wierd seeing bald horses. :)

  • Sandra Warren

    Outstanding idea.

  • Craig Brogden

    The BHA cannot enforce rules internationally. By testing hair samples of foreign horses that compete at Royal Ascot or any other British meeting they will eliminate the international horse from their races.
    No country can enforce its rules on other countries horses and expect any to come and compete at an international meeting. The only requirement that they can have is for any horse competing to have drugs not permitted on raceday to be cleared from the horses system by raceday.

    • Hopefieldstables

      Define “cleared”

      Your statement is incoherent.

      To compete in the UK you must adhere to UK rules.

    • PNkt

      Good, we don’t want anyone who can’t race cleanly to compete here.

  • jttf

    testing hair for drugs has been around for years. the horse industry always tells us they have the best testing around. now, finally they come up with this. remember p.val shaving his body so they couldnt get a hair off of him that was long enough to test ? why is the horse racing industry telling everyone that they are going to test for steriods with hair ? dont you want to surprise the cheaters and catch them ? not these guys. now, they will wait 90 days and let them all off of the hook.

  • McGov

    More testing is better and if there is a zero tolerance for steroids then the timeline regarding hair growth is largely irrelevant. It will be interesting to see how this affects horses shipping in from NA, etc…there likely will be many trainers unwilling to accept the risk.
    Another step in the right direction.

  • walter magee

    This testing method will definitively clear the deck of any horse that had been treated within months prior to an event. The horse that achieve notariety in British racing will be the real deal, not a mysteriously enhanced version. Well done old boys.

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