British Racehorse Steroid Policy Has U.S. Ramifications

The policy says racehorses must not be given anabolic steroids. Positive tests will result in a 12-month training ban.

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The racing and breeding industry in North America is devising a plan of action to accommodate the British Horseracing Authority’s (BHA) zero-tolerance policy for the presence of anabolic steroids in Thoroughbred racehorses.

The issue was discussed during the Feb. 3 Consignors and Commercial Breeders Association (CBA) symposium at Keeneland Race Course in Lexington, Kentucky, for the benefit of consignors, breeders, and owners that might purchase young horses at auction and ship them to Great Britain, or send racehorses abroad to compete. Scott Stanley, PhD of the University of California, Davis (UC Davis), reported on the progress of hair-sample testing for steroids and other substances.

The policy in Great Britain was enacted after two highly publicized cases in which racehorses tested positive for anabolic steroids, particularly stanozolol. The BHA policy states a horse during its lifetime never should be given anabolic steroids and, if a racehorse tests positive, it will be banned from training for 12 months.

"That would be a career for a lot of horses," Stanley said of the length of the ban under the policy, scheduled to take effect March 1. "I’ve spoken to sale companies to try to get ahead of this. The vast majority of horses would be tested before going overseas to give the buyer or seller confidence, but we have yet to determine the most appropriate way to go

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Tom LaMarra, a native of New Jersey and graduate of Rutgers University, has been news editor at The Blood-Horse since 1998. After graduation he worked at newspapers in New Jersey and Pennsylvania as an editor and reporter with a focus on municipal government and politics. He also worked at Daily Racing Form and Thoroughbred Times before joining The Blood-Horse. LaMarra, who has lived in Lexington since 1994, has won various writing awards and was recognized with the Old Hilltop Award for outstanding coverage of the horse racing industry. He likes to spend some of his spare time handicapping races.

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