Horse Racing Ireland have announced a zero-tolerance regime enhanced with range of new measures
Mr Kavanagh was speaking at HRI’s announcement that new powers, new supports, and new funding will be deployed to ensure continuous improvement in the area of anti-doping. HRI will be working closely with all racing bodies to ensure that Ireland continues to operate to the best international standards.
The range of new measures reaffirms Horse Racing Ireland’s position in relation to drug testing within Irish horse racing and the wider thoroughbred industry. HRI also reaffirmed its commitment to resource and support an enhanced programme of anti-doping measures to ensure that Ireland operates to the best international standards.
New Powers of Access for Testing
Under new powers granted to the Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board (IHRB) by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, every thoroughbred in the country will in future be liable for testing without notice on both licensed (trainers) and unlicensed premises. These new powers of access conferred under Authorised Officer (AO) status will put the Irish regulatory regime on a par with the best in the world.
Brian Kavanagh, Chief Executive of Horse Racing Ireland, said:
“We know from the number of tests performed each year, and from the variety of testing methods used, that Ireland has a robust system which operates at or above agreed global standards. Additionally, there is a stringent range of penalties that can be applied by the IHRB, which can go up to a lifetime ban for horses deliberately administered a substance prohibited at all times.
“In 2021, in excess of 4000 samples will be taken from racehorses in Ireland by the IHRB, and in the region of 25% will be out of competition tests or tests taken before horses come under the care of a licensed trainer. All samples are tested in an internationally accredited reference laboratory. In addition, approximately a further 600 samples will be taken from horses for sale at public auction.
“However, this is an area that we can never be complacent about and Horse Racing Ireland has been working with the IHRB to bring about further improvements to the systems this year. Our efforts and investment remain focused on ensuring that Ireland’s €2bn equine industry, an industry that employs thousands of people and encourages significant foreign direct investment, operates one of the most comprehensive systems of testing of any racing or breeding jurisdiction in the world. This is as it should be, given the importance of the industry and the value of trade in Irish horses.”
Specific improvements identified for 2021 include:
“Irish horses compete internationally more than any other country and are tested without issue under many different regimes, which gives us confidence as to our systems. We welcome the increased powers granted to the IHRB which will further enhance the levels of out of competition and pre training testing in Ireland.
“We have seen from recently published figures for ownership and horses in training as well as the continued demand at public sales, that there is a high level of confidence in the Irish horse. Horse Racing Ireland will be working closely with the IHRB on anti-doping to ensure that this confidence continues to be well-placed and enduring.”
Denis Egan, Chief Executive of Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board, said:
“The Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board welcome the continuous support of Horse Racing Ireland and obviously share the goals of HRI, and everyone in the racing and breeding industry, to continue towards delivering a gold standard in equine anti-doping systems.
“Anti-doping never stands still. Our strategy has always been to take the right sample from the right horse at the right time. This has been one of the main drivers of a greater move towards out-of-competition testing, which in 2019 represented 18% of all samples taken – up from 7% in 2016. In percentage terms the total number of runners tested in Ireland – at 10% - is comparable to other jurisdictions.
“The appointment of IHRB officials as Authorised Officers will give the IHRB powers to access any Thoroughbred which is bred to race, at any time. No racing authority has greater powers when it comes to inspections and sampling, and this will further enhance our ability to deliver an equine anti-doping programme that is one of the best in the world.”