Ireland: Lifetime Ban For Horses Administered Prohibited Substances

by | 02.04.2016 | 12:03pm

Horses found to have been administered prohibited substances, including anabolic steroids, will be banned for life in Ireland.

The Irish Thoroughbred Industry Anti-Doping Task Force made the recommendation in its report, which was released Feb. 4.

Horse Racing Ireland also approved expenditure of €1.845m to purchase new laboratory equipment, and to keep testing facilities up to date.

The following is the complete press release issued by the Anti-Doping Task Force:

‘Illegal performance enhancing drugs have no place in the Irish racing and breeding industries. In particular, the Task Force supports the position of the International Federation of Horseracing Authorities that the use of anabolic steroids should not be permitted in or out of competition. Doping is cheating, and cheating is fraud: cheats have no place in our industry. Doping confers an unfair advantage on one individual over another, has the potential to pose serious welfare risks to horses and damages the perception of racing and breeding. Ultimately it places at risk the valuable trade in Irish bloodstock and the business of betting on Irish racing. The organisations represented on the Task Force are committed to ensuring that the drug testing regime in the Irish racing and breeding sectors is one that can meet current and future challenges. The organisations that we represent strongly support a robust anti-doping strategy in Irish racing and breeding. Furthermore we encourage all stakeholders to continue to pass on any information that they become aware of about the importation and/or use of illegal drugs to the Turf Club or the Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine.'

The report includes the following specific recommendations:

A lifetime ban should be introduced for any horse found to have been illicitly administered any substance “prohibited at all times” including anabolic steroids.

This lifetime ban on racing in Ireland would be applied to horses illicitly administered a substance “prohibited at all times” anywhere in the world.

There should be no automatic therapeutic use exemption for anabolic steroids.

The Irish racing and breeding industries must have access to a laboratory which meets the best international standards, is based in Ireland and operates under either a permanent relationship with, or a long-term support from, the Irish racing authorities.

In the medium term, Ireland's laboratory should aspire to being classified as an IFHA Reference Laboratory.

A single national equine drug control laboratory should be considered.

There should be increased frequency of Out Of Competition Testing.

There should be a significant increase in the number of samples collected and analysed each year to achieve operational and cost efficiencies.

The Turf Club should establish a dedicated Anti-Doping Unit, headed up by an Anti-Doping and Equine Welfare Officer, to oversee developments and to co-ordinate future strategy in this area.

A basic education module covering the principles behind the industry's anti-doping strategy should be developed and disseminated to all education providers in the racing and breeding sectors.

The Turf Club should produce guidelines for new anti-doping rules and develop formalised regular educational programmes for trainers and for the breeding industry regarding the implementation of these rules.

An ongoing research programme into new and emerging threats in equine doping should be supported, including collaboration with other racing laboratories.

Any horse entered for sale at public auction in Ireland will be liable for testing under the Turf Club's Out Of Competition Testing Programme.

Testing methodology for horses at sales, in training or at the race track should be standardised.

The Task Force should be reconvened in six months to review progress with the implementation of the recommendations outlined in this report.

Meta Osborne, Chairperson of the Irish Thoroughbred Industry Anti-Doping Task Force, said:

“I am delighted that the Anti-Doping Task Force has produced an agreed consensus statement and report which the industry has been able to support and unite behind. The key objectives are to eliminate cheating and to ensure that horse welfare is paramount. The announcement of a lifetime ban for any horse found to have been illicitly administered any substance “prohibited at all times” including anabolic steroids is an unequivocal statement that cheats will not be tolerated within Irish racing. The Turf Club will continue to work with Horse Racing Ireland in this vital area to ensure that we have the resources and structures in place to maintain the highest levels of integrity in our sport, and thereby to safe-guard the international reputation of the Irish thoroughbred industry.”

Brian Kavanagh, Chief Executive of Horse Racing Ireland, said:

“Setting up the Anti-Doping Task Force was vital in order to protect the reputation of our racing and breeding industry, and Horse Racing Ireland welcomes the consensus reached and the strong recommendations that have been set out. The industry is worth over €1 billion annually to the Irish economy, and our international position as a world leader must be maintained. HRI will support the recommendations of the Task Force through the significant and continuing investment that is being announced today. The issue of illegal performance-enhancing drugs is one that needs to be addressed worldwide and Ireland is now to the fore in tackling this problem head on. Our primary concern is to ensure that Ireland's racing and breeding industries have drug testing systems that meet the best international standards.”

  • Swish Tony

    Ireland leading the fight against the cheaters

    • ben

      There is too much on the scale. So lifting up the balance with the cheaters is extremely good for keeping the buizz sound.

      I like the step concerning them horses, a lifetime ban will hit the owner as well as the trainer.

      • Lehane

        And the horse?

        • ben

          There is enough pasture around.

          • Always Curious

            I don’t think there will be enough pasture unless the numbers are really low. Aftercare is a really big issue and I hope they are forging ahead on that too. There is a big market for horse meat in Europe, I HATE to say.

          • ben

            There is a market, but not large and mainly in France. If a horse got a course with medications, most of them are not alowed to be slaughtered and used for meat anyway.

            This stance by the Irish I have been advocating for yrs. But with the improved equipment, the Irish will detect much more than up to now. The GB is already on the up front and the other countries will follow in their wake.

            Protecting the welfare and the breed is essential. Putting al kind of medications is harming the breed and essential the welfare from the horses.

          • Ivan John Skibinsky

            Horse meat is also on every menu in Belgium and is consumed in just about every European country. Not just France!

  • Ring Of Light

    Geez, if they did that in the U.S. they’d have to practically shut down racing.

    Think it’s a great idea. Right now, the owners get off scott free under the current system. They can just move the doped horses to other barns.

    P.S. Anyone that believes that owners “didn’t know” their horses were being doped has been inhaling too much hay.

    • Bellwether

      The bulk of all involved juice n the Horses(trainer/vet) in the US get away scott free as you say…Slap on the wrist when they need to be slapped in the CHOPS and locked up…ty…

    • kim

      You are so right my guess is 95% of owners choose a trainer for what they know he or she is doing while training IMO of course

      • Always Curious

        Or they just turn a blind eye, don’t want to know. They are just looking for results from the trainer on their horse.

        • kim


    • Lehane

      Calling it as it is, thanks.

  • Hamish

    So the “Irish Eyes” are open! Good for them. Wake up America horse world and smell the coffee brewing, as a new day of racing protocols needs to be initiated soon. A complete restructuring of our medication policies, enforcement, and overall industry management must be part of a comprehensive national solution, one when implemented, may look nothing like what our outdated system does today. That’s o.k. It’s called progress.

  • Bellwether

    I can’t see where the Horse should be banned at all as the cheating banned for life owner should at least be able to sell the Horse…As for the trainer/owner/vet if busted while racing the Horse (fixing the race) jail/prison and lifetime ban…Lifetime only ban if busted while not racing…Don’t hold your breath waiting on the US to do anything unless the FED steps in and cracks the whip…BOOK IT!!!…

    • HowardRoark314

      Yeah I can’t wait until the Fed comes in via USADA and ‘horsemen’ around the US exclaim: “wait, we don’t want to ban ALL drugs, some drugs are good – you don’t understand!”

  • Greg J.

    The horse gets life but not the trainer???? Makes zero sense.

    • Jocke Muth

      It amounts to life for a trainer if he get’s a hors banned for life, who would send him/her any horses after that?

  • Quilla

    Sure, and the horses are taking this stuff themselves, are they? The Owners and the Trainers should be banned for life. The horses can find a safer barn.

    • mike

      this will send a message to people not to send their horses to the cheaters

  • Darlene Allison Anders Sanner

    Doesn’t sound like a done deal I see a lot of “it is recommended” “should be considered” “this should be done” in this article

    • ben

      This will be implemented no doubt about that.

  • nodouble

    I guess when they have fields of 2 or 3 they’ll reconsider.

    • ben

      Won,t happen.

  • Ivan John Skibinsky

    Wow! It’s about time everyone realized that it’s the horses fault and the owners and trainers are the victim! What a bunch of slimy Idiots!!!!

    • Always Curious

      No it is not the horses fault but this is a penalty that all should fear. I can’t think of anything worse to happen to a good horse and I don’t think anyone with any sense would try and violate the laws. Those that try to violate the rules would be the slimy idiots IMO. The pressure coming from the owners to be clean will be tremendous.

    • McGov

      “Slimy Idiots”? Wow, hard to believe you feel that strongly about this action taken by the Irish. Perhaps the Irish feel that integrity of the breed is important. INTEGRITY….a word lost in NA.

      • ben

        It is not only integrity from the breed. It starts with integritly on the racecourse.

        Racing drug, medication free is just a starting point.

        • McGov

          I agree it starts with who we celebrate as a champion….which translates into the next generation of pedigrees. If we continue to breed horses with bleeding problems or otherwise…..we will continue to decline. We should be very interested in a full historical bio profile of a horse before we allow it to breed. It doesn’t matter how great a horse was if the horse has genetic flaws which required medical assistance to achieve that success.

  • Sharon Klein

    Applaud your attention to giving the use of illegal drugs in racing industry as unacceptable. However, the poor horses are just trying to do what the greedy trainers and owners demand – WIN THE RACE AT ALL COSTS. Do not punish the horse by banning it from the racing industry – punish the owner/trainer and vets who are guilty of breaking the law and subjecting the horse to win at all costs. Steriods had long range health effects to both equines and humans. Establish life time bans on the owners/trainers and vets who administer illegal drugs. Let the horses continue to do their job under responsible law abiding new owners.

    • Can’t Believe I’m Responding

      Wow. You are delusional. The horses don’t have a choice to run. Do you really feel that if a horse is not allowed to race again, the horse will be in a bad place? It is an animal that is forced to race. I am sure it will be pretty happy just grazing.

      • Lehane

        And none will go to slaughter? Most owners aren’t interested in maintaining a horse that can no longer race.

        • Always Curious

          I hate to say it but Europe does not feel the aversion to slaughter for horse meat the way we do here. They eat a lot of horse meat.

          • ben

            No the european does not eat a lot of horse meat. Some people in some countries are eating horsemeat.

            Horses that got bute, are out from beiing slaughtered

          • Ivan John Skibinsky

            Only for a two week waiting period, than they can be slaughtered.

        • Sharon murray

          You have a horse that can no longer race they are not going to kept as pets so where are they are going to slaughter that is the fastest and cheapest way to get rid of horses

    • Memories of Puchi

      Sharon, by lifetime banning of a horse that has been administered an illegal drug HRI has created a huge disincentive. If you have invested money in the purchase/training/upkeep of a racehorse, the last thing you want is to sabotage your own investment with no hope of return. This ruling is intended to HELP THE HORSE, not punish it.

      • kim

        Thank you! Some don’t get that point. Imo

  • Al

    It makes a lot of sense, if you are an owner and paid a large sum for a horse, it makes a difference to you financial and personally.

  • betsalot

    I think it’s a good idea. If owners lose money on their investment they will demand more from their trainers. Go after the people at the top who are profiting from the doping

  • pretty mare

    There won’t be any horses to support their billion dollar Euro industry.
    A horse walks up to the vet and says, “yo, how about more Lasix? Feelin’ bloated,”

    • ben

      Better the Irish way, than the US counterparts, medicated loaded 4 legs animals.

      • Ivan John Skibinsky

        Yes the inbred Irish way is the way to go! Idiots!

      • Ivan John Skibinsky

        In the US they ban owners and trainers not horses.

  • Can’t Believe I’m responding

    The horse will be just fine. Please stop acting like the horse actually wants top race, and a ban would hurt its feelings.

  • Dobeplayer

    Shouldn’t the ban be for the people administering the illegal substances? Or am I missing something??

    • kim

      Trainers blame vets , vets blame compounder, owners play dumb

    • Memories of Puchi

      longterm financial disincentive

    • Ivan John Skibinsky

      Exactly! What a moronic approach they have taken!

  • Mimi H

    It’s a great start. Have they figured out a way to find if horses have ever been given the drugs? I hope so. It is really dishonest to promote a stallion or mare whose racing record is based on illegal drugs.

    • ben

      Hair testing is one of the means.

  • Anthony C.

    Trump said he will build a fence to keep those horses out of the US.

    • ben

      Europe is gooiing to build a fence against US horses.

    • Ivan John Skibinsky

      And keep out the idiots from Europe who own them!

    • Ivan John Skibinsky

      He should build a cage for trolls like you! This is about the horses welfare, not about horses ass’s like politicians.

  • Brian C

    The non racing publics perception of racing being a cruel sport is what drove this action by the Irish authorities.A few unscrupulous people having no regard for animal welfare will stop at nothing to win. This will make them think twice.There have been several high profile prosecutions of individuals here in Ireland recently but you could in no way say that we have a major problem. This action of banning the horse will simply reinforce the penalty that the administration of prohibited substances is wrong . This will act as a deterrent and copper fasten Ireland’s reputation as a clean and transparent racing nation.All our horses run drug free and therefore their performance has merit when they retire to stud , hence the breeding industry will be further enhanced.

  • Theo Aivazian

    one thing about this ban is that, horses that are juiced will not be able to race in Ireland

    • Ivan John Skibinsky

      And the Irish trainers will just find another way to cheat, just like our trainers in northamerica. Only a lifetime ban on humans who cheat will fix the mess.

  • JerseyGirl

    As it is not the horses’ intention to cheat, somewhere in the process the humans should bear responsibility. Also, if the intent of this process is to safeguard the health and safety of the horses’ life, (which wasn’t mentioned) both during and after a racing career, it would seem provident to enact some of these points.
    As with humans, there must be long term effects, i.e. neurological, physical, breeding problems later in life.

  • Always Curious

    WOW! Good for them. Banning the horse for life really is more extreme than the trainer. Imagine the owner’s response! The trainer would be treated like he has the plague. Imagine the public outrage if a favorite horse is banned forever. Owner’s can’t just turn the backs on what the trainer might be doing. The price would be too great. Imagine paying a million for a horse and then it is disqualified forever. I would like to know other than steroids what is on the list of forbidden substances. I imagine there are still penalties for trainers also but they may not be mentioned here. Trainer, veternarian and this horse penalty will really put the hammer down on cheats. Anyone know for sure? To bad we have no racing entity here like the turf club to take these actions. We need government assistance:(
    I look forward to following their progress.

    • Ivan John Skibinsky

      Meanwhile back in the real world trainers who cheat are welcomed by the owners of cheap claimers.

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