Racing authorities in Ireland and Britain dismiss doping claims

IHRB and BHA say samples carried out did not support allegations of steroid use

Racing authorities in Ireland and Britain have dismissed claims about a number of horses transferred between both countries showing evidence of having been given steroids.

In an unusual step both the Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board and the British Horseracing Authority said samples carried out did not support those claims.

Those claims came in the Sunday Independent which asserted that an English trainer found three of six horses he acquired in Ireland to have shown evidence of "a number of currently unidentified possible keto-steroids."

The newspaper report said the unnamed trainer, who it claimed had commissioned testing from a toxicologist, contacted Jim Bolger last October on the back of high-profile comments he'd made about doping in Irish racing.

On Monday the IHRB and BHA presented a united front on the matter.

A BHA spokesperson said: “The BHA welcomes approaches from anyone with concerns or information about potential wrongdoing.

“On occasions we receive such approaches and they are always properly assessed prior to any follow up action being taken. This has in the past led us to carrying out analysis of samples taken from horses from other nations.

“While we would not comment on the specifics of any such approaches, we can confirm that the concerns referenced at the weekend were raised with the BHA and were looked into.

“However the analysis of samples carried out via the internationally accredited and world-leading laboratory used in British racing did not support the claims provided to the BHA.”

The Newmarket based LGC lab is used for testing by both the BHA and the IHRB.

An IHRB statement said on Monday: “The IHRB does not comment on any individual cases, or any information provided, or investigation.

“However we can confirm that the concerns referenced at the weekend in the Sunday Independent article had been raised with us by the BHA and were investigated.

“The IHRB liaised with the BHA on this matter and both parties are satisfied with the analysis of samples carried out via an internationally accredited and world-leading laboratory and that the serious claims made were not supported by the scientific analysis.”

The newspaper report also claimed the IHRB failed to act in relation to two anonymous letters sent to the regulator relating to alleged use of prohibited substances by unnamed trainers.

However an IHRB spokesman repeated on Monday that all information provided to the under-fire body is assessed and acted upon.

Both the IHRB and Horse Racing Ireland will appear before the Oireachtas Agriculture Committee on Thursday in a the first of a series of meetings on integrity and drug use in Irish racing.

The Agriculture Committee's chairman, Jackie Cahill, TD, has said: "The committee has agreed to a series of meetings to discuss the concerning commentary around the integrity of the horseracing industry in Ireland and possible drug use in the sport.

“We have taken the opportunity to invite the relevant individuals, bodies and organisations in to discuss the recent, very concerning, commentary on the matter and giving them the time and place to debate the issues and highlight their own concerns.”

Jim Bolger has turned down an invitation to appear before the committee citing legal advice.

Cahill added: “We are global leaders in the horseracing industry, and any question around its integrity or the possibility of drug use could be extremely damaging.

“Breeders, jockeys, owners, and trainers are dependent on the viability of the sport in Ireland and the good name of the industry around the world. The committee hopes that these meetings will bring clarity to the situation.”

Brian O'Connor

Brian O'Connor

Brian O'Connor is the racing correspondent of The Irish Times. He also writes the Tipping Point column