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The Orders and Rules of Racing

BHA Notices Section


Detection of the Use of Anti-Infective drugs

The overarching policy behind medication control in British horseracing is the principle that 'no horse should run in Great Britain under the effects of medication or have any substance present in its system that can affect performance'. Prohibited substances are defined in the Rules of Racing as substances capable at any time of acting on a broad range of mammalian body systems; these substances must not be present on a raceday.

In the context of anti-infective drugs it is both understood that whilst they act on non-mammalian body systems - antibiotics for example on bacteria, anti-viral drugs on viruses, anti-fungal drugs on fungi, de-worming drugs on parasites etc, these drugs also can have direct and indirect effects on mammalian body systems.

The Authority's position is that it should implement its approach of strict liability for the use of prohibited substances with discretion for such anti-infective drugs. Firstly, because some anti-infective treatments are given for certain durations to avoid the development of drug resistance, low levels of drugs such as antibiotics, may be present after the condition has resolved and it would not be in the public interest to discourage such good practice. Secondly, the use of preventative medication such as de-worming drugs, carefully planned around racedays, is considered good horse husbandry, and again it would not be in the public interest to discourage such good practices.

The approach of recognising the need for the use of anti-infective medication is qualified by several important factors;

a) such treatments must not allow a horse to run that is unfit to do so,
b) the horse must not be contagious to other animals or people,
c) the drug must be being used for an anti-infective indication and not for another reason, and
d) the drug must be being used appropriately.

Therefore the Authority advises that for anti-infective drugs, with specified exceptions as below, their standing instruction to the testing laboratory in respect of a report of a screening finding of anti-infective drugs is not to produce a Certificate of Analysis.

However at the Authority's absolute discretion, if it considers that such medications are being used in an inappropriate or unsafe manner, as would be judged for example by drug screening findings, medication and veterinary clinical records, disciplinary action will be considered. Importantly the Rules of Racing state that every treatment must be fully justifiable by the medical condition of the horse receiving the treatment and that Trainers must ensure that all treatments and medication administered to a horse under his care or control are given in the interests of its best health and welfare.

Attention is also drawn to BHA Notices:
1) Administration of Levamisole/Tetramisole to horses in training
2) Procaine
3) Anti-viral drug Amantidine - Use off

(where it should be noted that detection of the use of these medications will be reported and where their use is reported disciplinary action will be taken).