The British Horseracing Authority's recent implementation of a zero-tolerance policy toward anabolic steroid use has prompted two American auction houses to defend the integrity of the horses they sell.
"U.S. sales companies have been at the forefront of this issue," said Bill Thomason, president of Keeneland Association. "In November 2007, Keeneland and Fasig-Tipton became the first Thoroughbred auction companies anywhere in the world to announce the implementation of a policy regarding the use of exogenous anabolic steroids in sales yearlings beginning in 2008."
Boyd Browning, president of Fasig-Tipton, also stresses that both sale companies were among the first to fund extensive research that determined the appropriate testing thresholds for determining androgenous anabolic steroid use.
"Thousands of yearlings have been sold since the inception of this policy, and there has not been a single positive test for anabolic steroids," Browning said.
The key elements of the BHA policy are the following:
■ A horse must not be administered an anabolic steroid at any point in its life.
■ Any horse administered an anabolic steroid will face a mandatory stand down period from training for 12 months and ineligible to start in any race in Britain for 14 months.
■ All horses must be available for testing at any time, regardless of physical location and whose care the horse is under, from the time it is first registered with Weatherbys.
■ All Great Britain-bred horses must be registered with Weatherbys within 12 months of birth, phased to six months in two years. Permanently imported horses must be registered with Weatherbys within three months of arrival in Britain accompanied by a sample that shows no evidence of anabolic steroid administration.
■ Due to their mirror policies, horses imported from Ireland, France and Germany that have spent 12 months under their equivalent policies will be exempt from this requirement. Likewise, runners from Ireland, France and Germany will be treated as British runners and sampled as per the standard testing policy.
■ All other foreign runners must be in Britain (and the BHA notified of their whereabouts) a minimum of 14 days in advance of their intended race to facilitate post-arrival sampling and analysis, the results of which will be received prior to the horse running.
In 2007, Keeneland and Fasig-Tipton formed a committee comprising representatives from the two sales companies, the Consignors and Commercial Breeders Association (CBA), leading veterinarians, and prominent authorities on steroids and drug testing in the U.S. to establish a policy regarding sale horses. In December of that year, the Ocala Breeders' Sales Co. announced a similar procedure would be available starting with its 2-year-olds in training sale in February 2008.
In 2011, after extensive research, the sales companies expanded their available testing for buyers to include androgenous anabolic steroids.