England to Increase Drug Testing for Jockeys
by Mark Popham
Date Posted: 6/9/2003 9:39:24 AM

There will be an eight-fold increase in drug testing for jockeys in Britain with breathalyzer alcohol testing introduced for the first time.

Around a 1,000 urine samples will be taken on Britain's racecourses every year rather than the present 150 each 12 months and up to 2,000 breathalyzer tests will also be seen.

The British Jockey Club announced the measures June 9 and will change contractors for doing the testing, replacing UK Sport with Medscreen, yet spend the same amount of money (aproximately £50,000) and gain a much faster service.

Testing for jockeys started in 1994 and two or three positives a year have been discovered through random selection of jockeys.

The Club will now also begin to target particular jockeys if they are continually lucky and miss random testing or because intelligence suggests they may have a problem.

Safety is the driving force behind the change according to Dr Michael Turner, the Club's chief medical adviser.

He said: "The motive for expanding our testing program is not because of a need to tackle a particular problem; rather, it is to use our financial resources in the most cost-effective way to further increase safety levels in a very high-risk sport.

"By aiming our primary testing program at those substances that impair performance or judgement, we can conduct a more effective and thorough testing program as well as achieving a much faster turn around of results.

"The move to Medscreen will also open up the way for the introduction of target testing in competition, the absence of which in a safety critical sport is arguably a weakness. Target testing would enable us to ensure that all professional jockeys are subjected to regular testing."

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