Changes to British racing’s equine anti-doping rules

The British Horseracing Authority (BHA) on Wednesday confirmed a number of changes to its Equine Anti-Doping Rules which will take effect from next month.

These changes follow a comprehensive review of the sport’s anti-doping Rules announced in 2018, following a number of Disciplinary Panel cases which called into question the assumptions that had been made regarding the Rules and how they should be applied.

It was also felt that a review of these Rules would lead to them being made simpler to understand and follow, whilst ensuring they still protect those who work in, follow or bet on British Racing sufficiently from the threat of doping.
The BHA have consulted on both the Rules and associated penalties with directly with trainers and via the National Trainers Federation, with additional input from both the UK and World Anti-Doping Agencies and sports bodies such as the FEI.

Independent legal advice on Rule changes following on from the consultation has been provided by the specialist sports law practice, Northridge LLP.

The main changes to the Rules, which were last updated in 2015, relate to the circumstances in which the Responsible Person may be found in breach of the Rules but not be penalised when a case is heard in front of the independent Disciplinary Panel.

The new Rules do not require any changes to the processes or safeguards put in place by Trainers in their yards.

In summary the changes are:

If a horse tests positive for a prohibited substance, in order to avoid a penalty the responsible person must establish the precise source of the positive finding and that they had taken all reasonable precautions
Cautions are available for lower level breaches
Suspended sanctions are available for breaches
Tim Naylor, Director of Integrity and Regulation at the BHA, said: “The culmination of this project has followed consultation with the appropriate parties as well as legal advice in relation to the Rule changes, and it is our hope that we now have a set of equine anti-doping Rules which are clear both for those who enforce them and those who are bound by them.

“We have to ensure that our Rules in relation to anti-doping are sufficiently robust, but also that as much as is possible in such a technical area everyone bound by the Rules understands what is required of them.

“Whilst in places the requirements upon the Responsible Person have been strengthened, there have also been changes to allow more appropriate penalties for lower and mid-level breaches of the Rules.

“We have communicated these changes now ahead of their implementation date next month to allow sufficient time for participants to ask any questions they may have prior to the Rules taking effect."