Equine Anti-Doping

Upholding the integrity of racing involves ensuring fair and safe competition.

Why is equine anti-doping relevant?


Equine welfare:

Racing’s participants have a responsibility to ensure the welfare of racing’s equine athletes. Those who work with the horses provide first class day-to-day care, which requires the appropriate use of treatments, rest and recuperation in response to any illness or injury.

Trainers are responsible for ensuring that treatments are only given in the horse’s best interest by working together with their vets and service providers.

Level playing field:

Participants and the public should be confident that horseracing is a fair contest of talent. The sport has rules that restrict which medications or substances can be given to a horse not just on raceday, but at any time (until permanently retired from the sport).

There are also restrictions on what substances our human athletes, Jockeys, can take. All participants have a role to play in ensuring that the sport is fair and competitive.

Clean racing:

Competitive sports have always attracted significant amounts of money, and horseracing is no different. Where there is money to be made a small number of people may be tempted to try and influence a result, which is why the sport has a zero-tolerance approach to doping and controls all other treatments. Any substance designed to affect performance could impact the result of a race, and that undermines the very nature of sport. From midnight on raceday, nothing other than normal feed and water is permitted.

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It is important to be aware that readily available or recommended products may still contain prohibited substances. You should check every substance before using it; your first point of contact should be your vet, but the BHA is happy to provide advice if you are unsure. Contact the Equine Health and Welfare Team on equine@britishhorseracing.com.

Substances/medicines are classified by either being prohibited at all times or prohibited on raceday only.

Examples of substances which are prohibited at all times:

  • Anabolic Steroid
  • Growth Hormone
  • Synthetic Peptide
  • Selective Androgen Receptor Modulators (SARMs) 

Examples of substances which are prohibited on raceday:

  • Non-steroidal anti inflammatory e.g “Bute”
  • Corticosteroid
  • Sedative e.g “ACP”

The anti-doping rules cover any horse that is intended to race. Crucially, this means the rules cover horses before they go into training at a licensed yard. As a result, the BHA can test foals, yearlings, or horses in pre-training to make sure they are also protected from prohibited at all times substances. Since 2018, Foals are required to be notified to the BHA within 30 days of being born, and they could then be sampled at any time between notification and permanent retirement from the sport.

The BHA’s overarching anti-doping strategy is to ensure the right horse is tested for the right substance at the right time, using the right sample matrix.

The BHA requires access to any horse at any time in order to prevent, detect and deter doping. It’s important that testing is unpredictable in this respect, which is why testing occurs unannounced. We sample horses both on the racecourse (“in competition”) and at home in yards (“out of competition”). Inevitably, this can cause some disruption to participants and their daily routine. BHA staff will do what they can to keep the disruption to a minimum. A refusal to submit to testing is itself a breach of the rules.

It is important that the Responsible Person, or their representative, understand the sample collection process and witness it closely, they should speak to the BHA staff if they have any queries or concerns. This is because once the sample is collected and sealed, the witness will sign a declaration and confirm that they have witnessed the sample process has taken place in accordance with the Rules of Racing.

Sometimes referred to as ‘cross-contamination’, for those who work directly with horses or spend time around them, it is important to think about your own medications. For example, do not handle or touch a horse if you have taken medications and not washed your hands yet. If you run a yard, make sure your staff, service providers, or visitors, are aware of these potential issues.

More information is available in the following Guidance.

Further FAQs surrounding BHA anti-doping can be found at the British Horse Racing Website