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HRI to bulk up horseracing anti-doping measures through 2021

Thom Malone
Thom Malone

16:20 12 Feb 2021

Horse Racing Ireland (HRI) has announced a range of measures to ensure the Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board (IHRB) has the tools to pursue a 'zero-tolerance' approach to anti-doping.

HRI’s announced new powers, new supports, and new funding will be deployed to ensure continuous improvement in the area of anti-doping.

HRI will be working closely with all racing bodies to ensure that Ireland continues to operate to the best international standards.

Unannounced visits to any yard where a thoroughbred is housed and full lifetime traceability are elements of the plan HRI announced.

The tender process for full CCTV coverage in all stable yards at racecourses is also part of the plan. That follows the incident in Tramore involving the Charles Byrnes trained Viking Horde being 'nobbled,' with the trainer suspended for six months.

Increased anti-doping measures

Brian Kavanagh, CEO of HRI said: “Integrity around anti-doping is a top priority for the Irish racing and breeding industry. People who set out to intentionally break the rules and use prohibited substances will be identified and prosecuted.

"They have no place in Ireland’s world-renowned racing industry and all industry bodies are committed to zero tolerance in this area,”

Specific improvements identified for 2021 include:

  • Increased powers for the IHRB veterinary team, including access to unlicensed premises.
  • Authorised Officer status for designated IHRB officials means that every thoroughbred in the country will be liable for testing by the IHRB.
  • These tests will operate in a similar fashion to licensed premises and will take place without prior notice. The tests will involve blood, urine and hair samples.
  • A whole-of-life thoroughbred traceability system for equines, including 30-day Foal Notification, will be developed by HRI as a key priority project. This will involve working with a number of industry bodies and the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine.
  • The 2021 foal crop will be the first to be issued with an e-passport which will allow for greater oversight of the horse population.
  • Once returned in training, horses will remain under the supervision of the IHRB at all times, including during the off-season, until they are permanently retired or exported.
  • The Board of Horse Racing Ireland has re-affirmed its commitment to, and will provide funding for, the installation of CCTV cameras in the stable yards at every racecourse. Tender documents for this will be published shortly by the IHRB.
  • There will be increased transparency and consistency of disclosure around reports into testing, and the first of a twice-yearly activity report from the IHRB will be issued at the end of June.

Confidence in anti-doping

Brian Kavanagh, added: “Irish horses compete internationally more than any other country and are tested without issue under many different regimes, which gives us confidence as to our systems.

"We welcome the increased powers granted to the IHRB which will further enhance the levels of out of competition and pre-training testing in Ireland.

“We have seen from recently published figures for ownership and horses in training as well as the continued demand at public sales, that there is a high level of confidence in the Irish horse.

"Horse Racing Ireland will be working closely with the IHRB on anti-doping to ensure that this confidence continues to be well-placed and enduring.”

Denis Egan, Chief Executive of Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board, said: “The Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board welcome the continuous support of Horse Racing Ireland and obviously share the goals of HRI, and everyone in the racing and breeding industry, to continue towards delivering a gold standard in equine anti-doping systems.

“Anti-doping never stands still. Our strategy has always been to take the right sample from the right horse at the right time.

"This has been one of the main drivers of a greater move towards out-of-competition testing, which in 2019 represented 18% of all samples taken – up from 7% in 2016. In percentage terms, the total number of runners tested in Ireland – at 10% - is comparable to other jurisdictions."


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