British and Irish authorities announce anti-doping initiative

Increased collaboration between regulators seen as ‘positive step forward’.

Governing bodies in Britain and Ireland have pledged to pull together to enforce a “zero tolerance” policy on doping in horseracing.

The British Horseracing Authority and the Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board will combine resources to formally continue stepping up levels of out of competition testing across both jurisdictions.

To kick off the new anti-doping and medication control initiative, almost 250 samples were taken from more than 120 horses that are entered for the Cheltenham Festival in an operation across 14 training premises in Ireland.

While any tests will be subject to individual IHRB or BHA protocols relating to the relevant region they are taken in, there will be a transparent exchange of any adverse results or findings that arise.

All samples will be tested by LGC Laboratory, one of six laboratories worldwide which is recognised as a referenced laboratory by the International Federation of Horseracing Authorities.

BHA director of equine regulation, safety and welfare James Given said: “The BHA welcomes the collaboration with the IHRB to demonstrate to stakeholders and the public that horses running from either side of the Irish sea in each other’s races do so under the same level of scrutiny.

“Not only will our Medication Control and Anti-Doping (MCAD) team have access to more information about visiting horses, but there will be opportunities for our wider team to share ideas and best practice in other areas of our work.

“Like the IHRB, this is aligned with our aims around international collaboration, the response to racecourse accidents and the overall improvement of equine safety and welfare.”

IHRB chief veterinary officer Dr Lynn Hillyer commented: “The IHRB Strategy 2024-2027 commits us to close engagement with international horseracing bodies and benchmarking ourselves against best international practice.

“This new venture shows stakeholders and the racing public that we collaborate as professionals across both sides of the Irish Sea, sharing best practice and resources and demonstrating equally stringent regulatory processes and standards to the extent that our anti-doping and medication control programmes are interoperable.

“We are delighted to be collaborating with our BHA colleagues in this way and see it as a positive step forward that reinforces the point that there is no room for anything other than the highest standards of integrity and welfare in either jurisdiction.”

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