Australian vet undertaking audit of Irish racing’s anti-doping procedures

Dr Craig Suann worked for 33 years in the New South Wales thoroughbred industry

Australian vet Dr Craig Suann has  begun an audit of Irish racing’s anti-doping procedures. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Australian vet Dr Craig Suann has begun an audit of Irish racing’s anti-doping procedures. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

 

The Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board (IHRB) has confirmed that the Australian vet Dr Craig Suann has begun an audit of Irish racing’s anti-doping procedures.

An independent examination of the sport’s anti-drugs systems was a key recommendation of a Oireachtas Agriculture, Food & Marine joint-committee report published in November.

That report came on the back of a fraught 2021 for the sector in relation to claims of widespread doping in the sport, including top trainer Jim Bolger’s assertion that drugs are Irish racing’s number one problem.

The Oireachtas report delivered a vote of confidence to the IHRB’s anti-doping system but urged an independent review of its procedures.

In the same week the report was published, Gardaí and Department of Agriculture officials raided a yard near Monasterevin where controversial equine ‘therapist’ John Warwick operated from.

Animal medicines not licensed for use in Ireland were found in Warwick’s possession and seized by Department officials.

Hair and blood samples taken from horses at the stables by the IHRB returned negative results.

On Tuesday the IHRB confirmed Suann has begun his examination of the anti-doping system in Ireland.

Suann stepped down in 2018 as Racing New South Wales’s chief veterinary officer.

He worked for 33 years in the New South Wales thoroughbred industry, beginning in 1985 when appointed as the Australian Jockey Club’s official vet.

His work with the Australian Racing Forensic Laboratory has been credited with being instrumental in the first-time detection of several prohibited substances.

“He has commenced the independent equine anti-doping audit on behalf of the IHRB,” a spokesman for the regulator said.

The Australian’s review will include comparisons with doping systems in other leading racing jurisdictions around the world.

However, the Oireachtas committee’s recommendation that any review would include an audit of all previous drug tests is understood to be regarded as unfeasible by regulatory officials.

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