Australian racing to adopt zero-tolerance policy on use of anabolic steroidsPICTURE: Getty Images
Australia falls into line with Europe on steroids
AUSTRALIA has answered calls for more stringent steroid controls and fallen into line with European racing, announcing a "zero-tolerance policy to the use of anabolic steroids in competition, training and spelling (resting periods)".
The new rule will be introduced on November 1, with the ban taking effect from May 1, 2014. The delay is to allow "six months for a treated horse to be free of anabolic steroids."
Australia currently allows the use of anabolic steroids out of competition, but horses are required to be drug-free on race day. There have been calls from Europe, most notably Paul Bittar of the BHA, challenging the rest of the world to improve their doping policies and Australia are the first to oblige.
"The Australian Racing Board has adopted a zero-tolerance policy to the use of anabolic steroids in competition, training and spelling and will institute heavy penalties for breaches of the ban," ARB chief executive Peter McGauran said in a press release.
"A new Australian Rule of Racing will be introduced on November 1, with the ban taking effect from May 1, 2014, thereby giving six months for a treated horse to be free of anabolic steroids.
"The ban on anabolic steroids goes far beyond any other racing jurisdiction outside of Europe and was decided by the ARB Board after lengthy consideration of veterinary and scientific advice and consultation with trainers' and owners' associations."
Australia's rules on the use of steroids had caused many of their successes overseas, most notably at Royal Ascot, to be called into question and part of the thinking behind the rule change was to abolish suspicion and retain public confidence in the sport in Australia.
McGauran said: "Foremost in the board's consideration was the need for absolute integrity and public confidence in racing. Although the use of steroids has greatly diminished over the years to the point where they are rarely relied upon by trainers, the ARB believes it is in the best interests of the industry that they no longer be available for any purpose other than as a therapeutic treatment for young foals.
"Racing is a sport and as such must be a test of the ability of the individual horse, its trainer and rider and not of the pharmacologist, veterinarian or sports scientist. The true spirit of competition means that no-one gets an unfair advantage which anabolic steroids can confer in certain situations."
Bittar, who welcomed the news, said: "The Australian Racing Board's decision is very good news and represents a significant step towards our goal of seeing the use of anabolic steroids for racehorses banned across the globe.
"We will be submitting a paper outlining our position ahead of the IFHA conference in October and we look forward to the matter being discussed next month in Paris."
The Chairman of the International Federation of Horse Racing Authorities (IFHA), Mr. Louis Romanet, also welcomed the announcement.
"I welcome and applaud this announcement by the ARB stating a total ban on the use of anabolic steroids both in and out of competition" stated Louis Romanet, IFHA Chairman.
"The ARB is to be commended for this historical decision. Additionally, I look forward to further discussion on this matter among all IFHA member countries to further two key objectives of the IFHA - to coordinate and harmonize the rules of the member-countries regarding breeding, racing & wagering and to ensure the quality and fairness of racing in the interest of both the breeding and the public."