Kentucky breeders' association urges action
THREE weeks before the British Horseracing Authority's new steroid regulations that could impact on US exports come into effect, Kentucky Thoroughbred Association president Garrett O'Rourke has urged breeders to help boost the image of the domestic industry.
In a membership renewal letter to KTA members, O'Rourke wrote: "We currently operate in a time when the US economy is solid and sales have been strong, but never have we been challenged by more overseas competition for US dollar investment.
"Our products have been accused of being inferior (due to the exodus of top bloodlines), our racing dependent on drug culture and our image is being dented."
A regular bone of contention between Europe and the US is the use of raceday anti-bleeding medication in the States, but with the use of steroids allowed up to 45 days before sale at Keeneland and Fasig-Tipton, British buyers now risk their horses being banned from racing for 14 months if testing positive post-sale.
The new regulations, unveiled in June and coming into effect from January 1, state that "a horse must not be administered an anabolic steroid at any point in its life", and that "any horse administered an anabolic steroid will face a mandatory stand-down period from training for 12 months and be ineligible to start in any race in Britain for 14 months".
However, two commonly used steroids, stanozolol and ethylestrenol, are reported to be undetectable a month after administration by the detection methods currently employed by the BHA.
The use of hair sampling could prove effective in revealing past steroid use, but speaking in June BHA chief executive Paul Bittar said the sport's governing body was not yet confident hair sampling could be used for prosecution purposes.
In his call to arms O'Rourke outlined a number of areas in which he hoped Kentucky breeders would assist, including developing intiatives to "renew our respected image worldwide through long-term goals for stronger Kentucky sales, better Kentucky racing and renewed blood-line vigour in Kentucky".