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BHA seeks rule change on anti-doping penalties

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Press Release

27 November 2017


The BHA is seeking to amend the Rules of Racing to avoid weakening the ability for penalties to be imposed for breaching the equine anti-doping rules.

It follows a decision by the independent Appeal Board to dismiss a BHA appeal against a previous independent Disciplinary Panel decision not to impose a penalty on trainer Philip Hobbs for breaching racing’s strict liability rules. The Panel decided that Mr Hobbs had established the administration of the drug was unintentional and had taken all reasonable precautions so he should not be penalised.

The BHA’s Chief Regulatory Officer Jamie Stier said:

"This appeal was brought to seek clarification in relation to the interpretation of Rule (G)11.4.

"Whilst the Appeal Board’s judgment does not challenge the principle of strict liability, it has shown there is an issue with the way the Rules of Racing are currently written.

"In order to address the point raised by the Appeal Board, there needs to be an amendment to the current rules."

The Appeal Board disagreed with the BHA that the current rule logically requires a Responsible Person to establish the probable source of the prohibited substance in order to show that it was not administered intentionally and all reasonable precautions had been taken. They stated that “if Responsible Persons were to be subject to that regime, we would firmly have expected the existence of a Rule expressly imposing it.” As a result the BHA will now explore expressly setting out this principle in the rules.

It was and is the BHA’s view that the Responsible Person is by definition responsible for ensuring that no prohibited substances are found in the horse’s system at any relevant time.

Jamie Stier continued:

"We are proud of the approach of British racing to doping violations. International and UK owners invest tens of millions in our sport because we have a good reputation for maintaining a level playing field and fair competition.

"Racing cannot afford to see this reputation undermined so it is imperative we move swiftly to ensure that a proper framework is in place to underpin a robust anti-doping policy.

"A sufficient deterrent is fundamental to the enforcement of a effective anti-doping regime in any sport and therefore it is of vital importance that the principle of strict liability is backed up with appropriate penalties."


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