By Bob Kieckhefer
The International Federation of Horseracing Authorities should quickly consider a ban on the use of anabolic steroids for horses in training, Winfried Engelbrecht-Bresges, CEO of the Hong Kong Jockey Club, said April 28.
Engelbrecht-Bresges, also a vice chairman and member of the executive council of the IFHA, said the recent British scandal involving the administration of steroids to horses in training by Godolphin trainer Mahmood Al Zarooni threatens the integrity and reputation of racing and must be addressed.
Regulations governing race-related medication currently differ significantly among jurisdictions around the world. Al Zarooni admitted administering steroids to horses in his charge but said he did not realize that was a violation of British regulations. Last week, the trainer had his license suspended for eight years.
"It is a real concern," Engelbrecht-Bresges said April 28 after Audemars Piguet QE II Cup (HK-I) at Sha Tin, where steroids are banned for training and racing. "The recent doping case has significantly hurt the image of racing…this is a fundamental issue that will hurt the integrity and branding of the sport."
He said he believes clear rules should be established governing the use of anabolic steroids, permitting them only for horses that are laid up while recovering from injury and under the care of a veterinarian.
If rules can be drawn up and implemented, he said, jurisdictions that do not comply should face sanctions. But, he said, the first task for the IFHA is to "have a real good discussion" about steroids.
Engelbrecht-Bresges said his comments were in reference specifically to steroid use and not necessarily other medications, such as the anti-bleeding medication commonly known as Lasix, which is used widely in the United States. Conflicting evidence exists about the use of Lasix, he said, but that is not the case with steroids.
He said he hopes the issue can be addressed soon by the federation, perhaps in a special meeting by teleconference.