Racing’s reputation suffered a further blow earlier this month (4 December) when Newmarket trainer Gerard Butler was banned from the sport with immediate effect for 5 years after 9 of his horses tested positive for anabolic steroids.
The severity of the ban in part reflects that he injected 4 of the horses himself, which is illegal as he is not a qualified vet.
The positive results came from a British Horseracing Authority (BHA) testing in training session on 20 February.
He is the 2nd Newmarket trainer this year to receive a substantial ban for anabolic steroid use. In April, Mahmood al Zarooni was disqualified for 8 years.
Butler had previously insisted the horses had been treated with joint product Sungate — which he claimed he had not known contained the anabolic steroid stanozolol — on veterinary instructions.
But at a hearing in November, the 47-year-old also admitted to using Rexogin, a product containing 10 times more stanozolol than Sungate.
The panel heard how he had ordered Rexogin, a steroid used by humans, online from UK Steroids Pharmacy. He also admitted injecting 4 horses with the drug.
The BHA panel declared his behaviour “an appalling breach of his duty to look after the interests of the horses in his care”.
Butler said he had been present at hundreds of such injections and felt able to undertake the procedure.
“I have made a big mistake and am paying a big price,” said Butler in a statement. “All I can do is try to pick up the pieces. I will do so with a painfully renewed sense that the principles I neglected, in one disastrous lapse, will be those that serve me best in trying to rebuild my life.”
This story was originally published in 12 December issue of Horse & Hound.