Morrison determined to clear name after positive steroid test
Hughie Morrison has pre-empted disciplinary charges from the BHA by issuing the strongest possible defence of himself and his staff, having revealed Our Little Sister tested positive for an anabolic steroid at Wolverhampton on January 14.
The BHA confirmed the positive test on Thursday afternoon and said the matter would be passed to its disciplinary panel.
Morrison is one of the training fraternity’s most vocal advocates of clean racing and is offering a £10,000 reward for information that could help to shed light on how and when nandrolone got into Our Little Sister’s system.
"The point to make is that any trainer who gives a horse an anabolic steroid is committing professional suicide," said Morrison. "If you give it something to enhance its chances of winning and it's going to be tested, it’s madness."
US expert called in
It is understood Morrison first received notice of the failed test on February 3, but had to wait until now – a matter of hours after he went public with the failed test – for the BHA to formally charge him with an offence that carries a ban with an entry level of two years and an upper limit of ten.
Morrison has called in a US-based expert, as well as Thames Valley Police, in an effort to prove outside meddling, going to the lengths of commissioning a hair analysis for Our Little Sister.
"We had 77 horses tested three weeks later and they were all clear, including Our Little Sister,” said Morrison. “Clearly the horse only had one shot of the stuff from a source we can’t find.
"We all know the rules of racing. I'm the responsible person and if there's a banned substance, I'm guilty unless I can prove myself innocent. I have to do everything in my power to prove myself innocent."
Al Zarooni banned for eight years
The most notorious case of steroid abuse in British racing came when Mahmood Al Zarooni was caught with doping materials at his Moulton Paddocks yard in Newmarket and 11 highly rated horses – including then Oaks favourite Certify and the previous year’s St Leger winner Encke, who denied Camelot the Triple Crown – tested positive for ethylestranol and stanozolol on April 9, 2013.
Al Zarooni was banned for eight years by the BHA just 15 days later, having confessed to a "catastrophic error".
Our Little Sister, a four-year-old filly, was running off a mark off 55 at Wolverhampton and finished last of eight runners in the two-mile handicap, having been sent off at 12-1.
She finished eighth of 13 at Southwell 12 days later and has not raced since.
The BHA statement confirmed Morrison had complied with all requests during the course of evidence gathering.
Nandrolone can occur naturally
The statement read: “In accordance with the BHA’s normal practice of assisting a trainer in circumstances such as these to establish the source of the administration, the BHA has carried out all reasonable inquiries it can with the full co-operation of Mr Morrison.”
Nandrolone can occur naturally in colts, meaning there is a permitted threshold level.
The BHA said no studies have shown the substance to be present naturally in either fillies who are not pregnant or geldings, and thus any positive test is an infraction of the rules.
In the wake of the Al Zarooni saga the BHA dramatically tightened its stance on steroids, adopting a zero tolerance policy.
Morrison has been a long-time public supporter of a hard line on the subject, having suggested his July Cup winner Sakhee’s Secret would not be competing on a level playing-field at Royal Ascot in 2008 against Australian-trained Takeover Target, a horse who had tested positive for steroids earlier in his career.