IHRB welcomes anti-doping inspections

Brian Kavanagh.

Horse Racing Ireland chief executive Brian Kavanagh has described as a “real breakthrough” the capacity for unannounced inspections on unlicensed premises after revealing the Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board’s authorised officer status will override the controversial 24-hour notice agreement that had been agreed with breeders.

HRI has also committed to assisting with a tender process for the rollout of CCTV at all 26 Irish racecourses. When announcing its budget for 2018, HRI had specifically mentioned a provision for CCTV when confirming the IHRB’s integrity fund.

That money was not spent on CCTV and Kavanagh has confirmed that the cost, expected to be around €500,000, will be funded by HRI on top of the IHRB’s integrity budget.

The announcements came on the same day that it emerged HRI has been invited to appear before the public accounts committee in the Dail on March 2 to answer questions about how the previous allocation for CCTV was spent.

Following the publication of the Industry Wide Policy on Prohibited Substances & Doping Control in 2018 – itself coming on the back of an extensive anti-doping task force report in 2016 – the Irish Thoroughbred Breeders’ Assocation had initially lobbied for a seven-day notice period for inspections on its members’ properties.

In a press statement, Denis Egan, chief executive of the IHRB, said: “The Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board welcome the continuous support of Horse Racing Ireland and obviously share the goals of HRI, and everyone in the racing and breeding industry, to continue towards delivering a gold standard in equine anti-doping systems.

“Anti-doping never stands still. Our strategy has always been to take the right sample from the right horse at the right time. This has been one of the main drivers of a greater move towards out-of-competition testing, which in 2019 represented 18 per cent of all samples taken – up from seven per cent in 2016. In percentage terms the total number of runners tested in Ireland – at ten per cent – is comparable to other jurisdictions.” (exctracts from Racing Post).