The British Horseracing Authority (BHA) on Wednesday announced that the breath testing of riders for the presence of alcohol will be carried out by BHA staff rather than an external supplier.
This is to allow the process to be more flexible, targeted and efficient as well as delivering a cost-saving on previous external agreements.
With effect from Monday 17 February riders have been breath tested at raceday fixtures by either a BHA Raceday Assistant (RDA) or an Equine Welfare and Integrity Officer (EWIO) who have undergone appropriate training.
From 1 March, new Rules will come into force which will allow for a more flexible approach to breath testing. Previously, when breath testing had been carried out at a fixture all riders at that fixture had to be tested prior to weighing out to ride.
This will no longer be the case from 1 March onwards as testing can be carried out on a more flexible basis without the requirement under the Rules for all riders to be tested. A breath testing kit will also now be made available at every fixture to allow for more intelligence-led targeted testing.
Urine testing will continue to be carried out by an external supplier. Work is planned to begin in the second half of 2020 to consider alternative methods in which riders could be tested for prohibited substances for regulatory purposes. A paperless system for the administration of breath testing will also come into force later this year.
Chris Watts, Head of Integrity at the BHA, said: “This is an important and positive step in our testing procedures and will allow us to adopt a smarter and more cost-effective approach to testing.
“It will allow us to test more frequently but also with more flexibility, hopefully minimising the impact that it has on riders.
“There are plans to consider the other ways in which we test riders later this year, to examine if the testing methods that we use and the matrices that we are testing are as effective as they can be.”
Paul Struthers, Chief Executive of the Professional Jockeys Association, said: "The PJA and its Board has long been in support of increased testing for riders. Bringing breath testing ‘in-house’ and increasing the flexibility of the testing process are important steps which we fully support."