SBC News BHA & IHRB launch ‘critical’ anti-doping initiative
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BHA & IHRB launch ‘critical’ anti-doping initiative

The Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board (IHRB) and British Horseracing Authority (BHA) have introduced a new equine anti-doping & medication control initiative.

The deal sees the pair express their common commitment to the regulation of medicine use and zero tolerance of doping in horse racing on both sides of the Irish Sea, whilst highlighting Out of Competition Testing (OOCT) as a critical component of an effective, modern anti-doping strategy in sport. 

Dr Lynn Hillyer, Chief Veterinary Officer for the IHRB, commented: “The IHRB Strategy 2024-2027 commits us to close engagement with international horse racing bodies and benchmarking ourselves against best international practice. 

“This new venture shows stakeholders and the racing public that we collaborate as professionals across both sides of the Irish Sea, sharing best practice and resources and demonstrating equally stringent regulatory processes and standards to the extent that our anti-doping and medication control programmes are interoperable.”

Both jurisdictions have increased OOCT in recent years, increasing access to and testing of thoroughbreds at all stages of their careers. 

Building on this and reflecting their shared focus on participant safety and wellbeing, and the integrity of horseracing, the IHRB and BHA are now formally conducting joint OOCT operations across both jurisdictions. 

Hillyer added: “We are delighted to be collaborating with our BHA colleagues in this way and see it as a positive step forward that reinforces the point that there is no room for anything other than the highest standards of integrity and welfare in either jurisdiction.”

The aforementioned inspections commenced this week, the BHA revealed, with almost 250 samples taken from more than 120 horses that are entered for the upcoming Cheltenham Festival in an operation across 14 training premises in Ireland over the last two days.

This saw the Head of Equine Regulation, Safety and Welfare and a Senior Veterinary Officer from the BHA join forces with the IHRB’s Deputy Heads of Veterinary Operations and Policy and other IHRB Authorised Officers.

“The BHA welcomes the collaboration with the IHRB to demonstrate to stakeholders and the public that horses running from either side of the Irish sea in each other’s races do so under the same level of scrutiny,” noted James Given, Director of Equine Regulation, Safety and Welfare. 

“Not only will our Medication Control and Anti-Doping (MCAD) team have access to more information about visiting horses, but there will be opportunities for our wider team to share ideas and best practice in other areas of our work.

“Like the IHRB, this is aligned with our aims around international collaboration, the response to racecourse accidents and the overall improvement of equine safety and welfare.”

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