The Australian Racing Board announced today that they will introduce heavy penalties for the use of anabolic steroids after introducing a new zero tolerance policy to ban them in and out of competition.
The new policy will affect all thoroughbreds over the age of six months with the rule to be introduced on November 1, 2013 and implemented from May 1, 2014, thus allowing six months for any horse currently being treated to be free of the drug.
“The ARB 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 the 1st of November with the ban taking effect from 1 May, 2014 thereby giving six months for a treated horse to be free of anabolic steroids.”
The current rule allows anabolic steroids to be used out of competition with horses required to be drug free on race day.
The new policy brings Australian racing into line with that of the European racing scene and goes far beyond the policies of countries outside of Europe.
“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,” Peter McGauran said.
McGauran also said one of the main reasons for the decision was so the public will have confidence in the Australian Racing Industry as well as keeping up with other high profile sports throughout the world which have banned anabolic steroids.
“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,” Mr McGauran said.
“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.”
The new policy will now eliminate any suspicions that had been raised in the past with Australian trained horses travelling to England to compete.
Questions were raised by the British Racing media after Melbourne’s leading trainer Peter Moody took Black Caviar to Royal Ascot to win 2012 Group 1 £500,000 The Diamond Jubilee Stakes (6 furlongs), her twenty-second win from her twenty-five undefeated career starts.
Moody stated that Black Caviar had never been administered anabolic steroids during her illustrious career.
“Steroids increase bulk. Black Caviar was a huge mare, from the day she was born. To give her steroids would have been absolutely counterproductive,” Moody told the The Telegraph in London when the questions were raised in 2013.
“She was tested 24 hours after arriving in Britain last summer and three days before her Ascot win. There was nothing in her system.”
And the British Racehorse Authority responded to these inquiry by saying that there had been no evidence of any anabolic steroids use.
“There is no evidence to suggest that horses trained from outside Britain competing in this country have done so with the benefit of anabolic steroids. There has been no positive for anabolic steroids. If there was one, the horse in question would be barred from running in the race for which it was entered,” Will Lambe, the BHA’s head of external affairs told The Guardian.