British racing authorities are investigating other potential cases of anabolic steroid use, this time through a product legally imported from Italy.
The investigation follows the high-profile case of Mahmood Al Zarooni, who copped an eight-year ban for administering two anabolic steroids to 15 racehorses trained under the Godolphin racing empire of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum.
The British Horseracing Authority released a statement following an interview with its chief executive, Paul Bittar, on Britain’s Channel 4, in which he was asked to comment on the veterinary product Sungate.
The authority says Sungate is a product developed by an Italian company, produced and licensed for equine use in Italy.
Its use in Britain is legal, but only when imported under the Special Import Certificate scheme administered by the Veterinary Medicines Directorate.
The product is intended to assist in the treatment and management of joint disease in horses.
Sungate contains stanozolol, an anabolic steroid and consequently a prohibited substance under the Rules of Racing.
The authority became aware of the use of the product on horses in training following a visit to Gerard Butler’s yard in February 2013 as part of its testing-in-training sampling programme.
Subsequently, it became apparent that a veterinary practice, which had legally imported Sungate into Britain, had recommended its initial administration to horses in the care of Butler.
The authority said it had met with representatives of the veterinary practice in question.
“As a result of that meeting the BHA believes that Gerard Butler was not the only trainer to whom the administration of Sungate was recommended.
“Veterinary surgeons are not bound by the Rules of Racing, but are subject to their own rules of professional conduct.
“Therefore, in order to establish the extent of the use of the product, BHA Investigating Officers will be interviewing trainers who are known to use the same veterinary practice.”
Under the rules of racing, licensed trainers are strictly liable for the administration of any prohibited substances administered to horses under their care and control.