Five men accused of taking part in one of racing’s biggest doping scandals walked free from court on Wednesday after the judge told them there was no case to answer.

Sixteen arrests, including a number of jockeys and trainers, had been made before the five accused were committed to trial. Police and Jockey Club Security investigations had been on-going for three years.

Judge Christopher Elwen, sitting at London’s Southwark Crown Court, released the five men who had been charged with “conspiracy to defraud” after Avanti Express at Exeter and Lively Knight at Plumpton had been found to be doped.

Elwen said: “Having thought very carefully what was put to me I came to the conclusion that there is no case for these defendants to answer.

Central to the charge of conspiracy is the idea they were involved in doping horses and defrauding bookmakers. I conclude there is no evidence that that part of the plot took place.” The five accused – Raymond Butler, Glen Gill, Adam Hodgson,John Matthews and Jason Moore – could not conceal their delight at the judge’s decision.