‘Zero tolerance’ policy on anabolic steroids for racing in Australia

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  • A complete ban on all anabolic steroids has been announced by the Australian Racing Board (ARB).

    The new rule will apply to all thoroughbreds from the age of 6 months.

    In April the doping scandal involving Godolphin trainer Mahmood al Zarooni illustrated the anomalies in worldwide rules.

    11 horses at Godolphin’s Moulton Paddocks stables in Newmarket tested positive for anabolic steroids, ethylestranol and stanozolol, which are banned under British Horseracing Authority (BHA) rules. And the trainer admitted to doping 4 more at his BHA hearing.

    At that time the use of anabolic steroids was allowed, providing that it was out of the horses system by raceday, in some countries including the Unites States, United Arab Emirates and Australia.

    Al Zarooni claimed he was not aware that the use of the steroids was prohibited outside of competition in the UK — but the BHA said rules on prohibited substances were clear in the UK.

    As a result of the scandal Godolphin founder Sheikh Mohammed banned the use of all performance-enhancing steroids in equine sports in the UAE.

    “The ARB has adopted a zero tolerance policy to the use of anabolic steroids in competition, training and spelling and will institute heavy penalties for breaches of the ban,” said ARB chief executive Peter McGauran.

    The ban in Australia will be introduced on 1 November 2013 and will be implemented from 1 May 2014.

    “The ban on anabolic steroids goes far beyond any other racing jurisdiction outside of Europe and was decided by the ARB Board after lengthy consideration of veterinary and scientific advice and consultation with trainers’ and owners’ associations,” Peter McGauran added.

    “Racing is a sport and as such must be a test of the ability of the individual horse, its trainer and rider, and not of the pharmacologist, veterinarian or sports scientist.

    “The true spirit of competition means that no-one gets an unfair advantage, which anabolic steroids can confer in certain situations.”

    British Horseracing Authority chief executive, Paul Bittar, said: The ARB’s decision is very good news and represents a significant step towards our goal of seeing the use of anabolic steroids for racehorses banned across the globe.”

    Although the racing community in the UK has welcomed the decision, some trainers in Australia could be opposed to its implementation.

    Speaking about the possibility of a ban after the Godolphin scandal Australian Trainers’ Association president Colin Alderson said: “This would be a complete over-reaction, an overkill.

    “Why should we ban steroids because of one isolated incident in the UK?

    “You ban it and the scallywags will still find a way to get around it.”

    There is now likely to be international pressure on the United States to move in line with the ban.

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