Vet: Steroids have no role in racing
Anabolic steroids are performance-enhancing drugs "with no role in racing" a leading veterinary practitioner stressed on Saturday.
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David Dugdale, managing partner of Newmarket Equine Hospital, spoke on Channel 4's The Morning Line as British racing continues to be embroiled in the fallout of Mahmood Al Zarooni's eight-year-ban for the use of anabolic steroids on 15 of his horses.
The British Horseracing Authority also confirmed this week that another Newmarket trainer, Gerard Butler, was part of an on-going investigation.
Butler told the Independent newspaper that he had made an "unpardonable misjudgement" after four of his horses had been treated with Sungate, a joint treatment which contains a banned substance, on the advice of his vet.
Dugdale said: "It is worth saying that, until recently, racing in the UK was held in the highest regard as a drug-free racing jurisdiction. I'm afraid we can't say that now with these recent revelations, allegations and rumours.
"The BHA needs to be applauded but also needs to be urged to speedily conclude its inquires so we do know the true extent of these issues.
"We don't know. At the moment there are allegations and rumours, and we need to know the facts and how widespread it is.
"The rules on anabolic steroids are clear - they cannot be used in racing. They cannot be present on the day of racing and they cannot be used in training, so anabolic steroids are universally recognised as a performance-enhancing drug. They have no role in racing.
"My experience, and I have worked in Newmarket for 25 years, is that trainers work very, very hard to stay within the rules of racing and the vast majority of veterinary surgeons work very hard to give them the advice to allow them to do so.
"Our practice is a 30-vet practice working in Newmarket looking after a good number of horses, including John Gosden and Sir Henry Cecil, and we have never used anabolic steroids in training.
"We have to await the results of the BHA inquiry to see how widespread this is, but my experience is that, I hope, it is a few isolated cases and once we have identified that, we (racing) can start to rebuild the reputation of UK racing and also the confidence of the racing public."
He added: "It (British racing) is not a question of how clever your vet is, it is genuinely a case of how good the trainer is and how good the horse is."