The new policy sets out clear individual responsibility for positive tests, as well as a defined threshold for bromide. H&H speaks to those involved in setting up the new rules...
H&H reported last year that the BSHA was disappointed with the low penalty imposed by an independent tribunal when a horse tested positive for bromide.
Association general manager Lucy Savill told H&H members raised the issue at the AGM.
“They were unhappy with the outcome of the disciplinary,” she said. “The [three-month] ban was served out of season, and many felt there was no deterrent.
“They asked us to spend some money and come up with a policy, so those who fall foul of our rules are suitably punished.”
A BSHA spokesman said a number of members had raised concerns over the anti-doping rules, feeling they were out of date. The code has four principles: to protect the integrity of classes, horse welfare, safety of competitors and safety of judges.
The BSHA worked with Rory Mac Neice, a former jockey who is now head of commercial litigation at Ashfords law firm, on the policy.
He told H&H he believes the policy achieves the four aims.
“The biggest change is in responsibility; there is now strict liability when a horse tests positive for a banned substance,” he said. “The code places responsibility on each individual member, which brings it in line with other disciplines, and differs in some respects to some other approaches taken in showing.”
Mr Mac Neice said the former rules were “opaque” and members had wanted clear responsibility. This will be on the member who has care of the horse, so the producer or rider.
“The BSHA hopes members will benefit from confidence that they’re competing on a level playing field,” he said.
The association will adopt the FEI’s prohibited substances list but has, on members’ request, set its own bromide threshold, having sought professional advice.
The code “reflects fairness” if a member can prove he or she is not at fault for a positive test, and “firmness where a member cannot do so”. In almost all cases, sanctions will involve suspension, two-thirds of which must be during the active season.
BSHA chairman Nigel Hollings told H&H the work was started by former chair Ian Darcy.
“I’m delighted this is now complete and ready for the 2021 season,” he said. “Our members asked us to work on it, and it’s taken a lot of hard work, but we’re determined to clean up showing and look forward to having our policy for the benefit of all.”
Both Mr Hollings and Ms Savill said other societies were welcome to get in touch to find out more about the policy.
H&H 1 October 2020
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