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.”
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