12/27/2013 12:01PM

British Horseracing Authority to increase out-of-competition testing

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The British Horseracing Authority will double the amount of out-of-competition samples it tests for illegal medications in 2014 under a revision of its drug-testing policies spurred by a set of anabolic steroid scandals this year, the BHA announced earlier this week.

The BHA also plans to conduct 20 percent more post-race tests next year as part of the revisions, the authority said. The revisions go into effect Jan. 1 and “will be reviewed quarterly,” the BHA said in a release.

Out-of-competition testing has become a priority for many racing regulatory bodies over the past several years because of concerns over the use of new classes of long-acting drugs that must be administered regularly but do not necessarily need to be administered within days of a race. Many U.S. states also have begun to ramp up out-of-competition testing in the hopes of discouraging use of anabolic steroids and blood-doping agents such as erythropoietin and darbepoietin.

In April, the BHA banned the Godolphin trainer Mahmood Al Zarooni for eight years after 15 horses at his training yard tested positive for anabolic steroids. In December, the BHA banned Gerard Butler for five years after horses he trained tested positive for substances that contained anabolic steroids.

“The objective is that via enhancements to our testing program and strategy, as well as the significant penalties handed to those how have breached the rules this year, we increase the deterrent against the use of prohibited substances,” Paul Bittar, the BHA’s chief executive, said in a release.