UK toughens stance on horse steroids after Godolphin scandal

British Horseracing Authority announces details of new rules including 14-month ban on any drugged horses

Horse trainer Mahmood Al Zarooni was banned by the British Horseracing Authority for doping horses at Godolphin stables in the UK. (Getty Images)

Horse trainer Mahmood Al Zarooni was banned by the British Horseracing Authority for doping horses at Godolphin stables in the UK. (Getty Images)

The British Horseracing Authority has announced details of its tougher policy on anabolic steroids, including a 14-month ban for any horses found to have been administered the drugs, following a scandal that rocked Dubai-based Godolphin last year.

High-profile cases involving former Godolphin trainer Mahmood Al Zarooni has prompted the BHA to strengthen its stance with a zero-tolerance approach on steroids.

Dubai-based Godolphin's reputation suffered a blow last year when the BHA banned Al Zarooni for administering anabolic steroids to horses at his Moulton Paddock stables in Newmarket.

UK border authorities last year also seized a shipment of unlicensed veterinary goods from a Dubai government jet.

New minimum standards were published by International Federation of Horseracing Authorities (IFHA) in October 2013 but following research and consultation, the BHA has now outlined its official policy.

Under the rules a horse must not be given an anabolic steroid at any point in its life and any that are will be banned from training for 12 months and ineligible to start in any race in Britain for 14 months.

All British-bred horses must be registered with Weatherbys within 12 months of birth, a period which will be phased to six months in two years, and they must be available for testing at any time after registration.

Permanently imported horses must be registered with Weatherbys within three months of arrival in Britain and be accompanied by a sample that shows no evidence of anabolic steroid usage.

The BHA ruled foreign runners must be in Britain a minimum of 14 days in advance of their intended race for post-arrival sampling and analysis, the results of which will be received prior to the horse running.

Paul Bittar, chief executive of BHA, said in a statement on the BHA website: "The need for an international position that sets robust minimum standards on use of anabolic steroids in horseracing was one that was pushed by BHA and a number of other key racing jurisdictions last year and resulted in the IFHA adopted position.

"The enhanced, zero-tolerance policy announced today, which exceeds the international minimum standard, has the objective of ensuring that British racing remains at the forefront of tackling an issue that ranks amongst the biggest threats faced by any world sport.

"It is intended to ensure that the industry, racing and betting public can be reassured that all races which take place on British soil are done so on a level playing field."

The intention is for the policy to be implemented by January 1 2015.

Angered by doping in his Godolphin stables last year, UAE Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum initiated last May a decree that made the import, sale, purchase or use of anabolic steroids in horse sports a criminal offence under the UAE penal laws.

Last week, the UAE government advisory council passed a draft law against horse doping, aiming to clear a reputation tarnished by doping scandals in flat and endurance races.

The bill, which covers all equestrian disciplines from racing to polo, outlines financial penalties from AED20,000 to AED500,000 ($5,400-$136,100) for various doping offences.

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