‘Eventing can learn from racing’ says Ian Stark

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  • In the wake of the news that the Jock Paget tribunal has not yet even been scheduled, Olympic event rider Ian Stark said the FEI could take a lead from racing — which has also suffered from high-profile doping cases recently.

    In 2013, trainer Mahmood al Zarooni was banned for eight years after horses at his yard tested positive for banned steroids. Last month, it was revealed two Irish trainers — Philip Fenton and Pat Hughes — had appeared in court recently after steroids were found at their yards in 2012.

    Ian, who has been a racecourse steward for several years, has recently become a member of the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) disciplinary panel. He sat on his first case — not drugs related —last month.

    “It was very interesting and extremely formal — like being in court,” he said.

    “There are many benefits from sharing knowledge across disciplines. There are many things we can learn from the regulations and how they are enforced in racing.”

    He added that the disciplinary system “needs tightening up” in eventing.

    “The FEI lets things linger on and on, whereas racing deals with problems pretty much immediately.

    “It’s prompt and so everyone knows where they stand. Eventing needs to work on this, when cases hang on it can have adverse effects on people’s careers.”

    Adam Brickell, director of integrity, legal and risk at the BHA, added: “Where circumstances allow, we are capable of expediting such cases to best protect public confidence in the sport.

    “With al Zarooni the gravity of the charges and the fact that the yard had entries in major races meant that it was important the issue was dealt with as quickly as possible.

    “Similarly, we have had to act fast in regards to Philip Fenton [the BHA went to Ireland to test his Festival horses last week] owing to the proximity of  Cheltenham and the high-profile horses with entries from his yard.

    “However, this is not always possible, especially when complex legal and evidential issues are involved.”